President-elect Pranab Mukherjee basking in his magnificent victory in the presidential elections should also ponder over the realities that were attendant on his election as India’s thirteenth President. Foremost, this striking victory is not of the Congress Party but a personal triumph of Shri Mukherjee in terms of popularity across the political spectrum.
Can Shri Mukherjee forget that the Congress apex leadership has denied him the Prime Minister’s chair all the way from 1984 onwards? Can Shri Mukherjee forget that had it not been for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee forcing Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s hand, the Congress Party was dithering till the last moment, more inclined to install Vice President Hamid Ansari?
President-elect Mukherjee will enter the Rashtrapati Bhavan a few days hence after his swearing-in on July 25 2012. He must remember that as he enters the hallowed portals of the old imperial majestic Viceregal Lodge, he would be carrying a lot of Congress baggage. He is entering the President’s House directly from an active political life as the chief Congress Government trouble-shooter. It will not be easy to jettison the Congress baggage and nor would the Congress apex leadership would like him to forget that he is in Rashtrapati Bhavan because the Congress President anointed him as such.
But President-elect Mukherjee must not forget that the reality would be that he is there because of his own personal achievements and not because of any crumbs thrown to him by the Congress President. President-elect Mukherjee would and should remember that India as a whole would be scrutinising him more minutely than ever before to see that Pranab Mukherjee has been able to rise to the occasion to serve as the ‘Custodian of the Indian Constitution’ a solemn responsibility bestowed on him by the Indian Republic or would he limit himself and belittle himself as one more foot soldier of the Congress Party like Fakhrudin Ahmad or Narayanan or the outgoing President to serve this time as the ‘Custodian of the Congress Party’s Political Interests’ in the run-up to the 2014 General Elections, on the outcome of the General Elections 2014 and the formation of the Government in the wake of the General Elections 2014.
President-elect Mukherjee has himself to take a personal call on either of the two options above. The Indian Republic would very much wish that President-elect Mukherjee elects to personally take a call on the first option so that he can carve a name in the history of the Indian Republic as a President who rose much above the captive strings of his political party and elected to set high exemplary Constitutional standards as precedents for those who follow him in this august office.
President-elect Mukherjee, the India Republic would be keenly observing what paths you adopt.