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Race for Raisina Hill: Why Pranab Mukherjee, why not Sangma
Some weeks ago, as the political ball began rolling to select a candidate for the post of President (and also Vice President a while later), the Catholic Church through The Catholic Secular Forum launched a campaign to demand that the post of President or Vice President be given to a Christian. Never has a Muslim party or organisation or individual ever demanded a position for a Muslim so brazenly, with religion peddled as sole USP, though efforts may have been made to promote co-religionists in various places.
Certainly, no one has dared, or cared, to make such a demand on behalf of the nation’s Hindu majority. Under the guise of a poison named Secularism, not only has India’s civilisational ethos been negated, de-legitimised, and driven out of public life, but Hindu Dharma has been consistently maligned and defamed to the point that it is difficult to confess to being Hindu.
What followed in both the Government and Opposition camps was simply unprecedented.
For a while, it seemed that as the dominant partner in the UPA coalition, the Congress, was mulling a Hindu-Muslim combination. No one expected party president Sonia Gandhi to select a Christian for the post as murmurs against her Christian bias were becoming audible [recall Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas and former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan].
Secondly, not many candidates were available. Defence Minister A.K. Anthony had become controversial after his fracas with the then Army Chief; Margaret Alva, Ajit Jogi, and Oscar Fernandes don’t enthuse anyone. After universal disillusionment with the incumbent Pratibha Patil, there was no chance that Sonia Gandhi would be able to thrust her personal choice upon a somnolent nation – this time, everyone was on the alert.
This is not to say that Sonia Gandhi did not try to make a unilateral choice, as the Congress Working Committee empowered her to do. Party emissaries began by ‘sounding’ allies about the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee, principal troubleshooter of the trouble-torn regime and widely ranked as No. 2 after the Prime Minister. Seeing the emergence of a clear consensus in his favour, the backroom boys began their games, trying to scuttle his candidature on grounds that he was ‘indispensible’ to the regime, and floating other names, most notably that of Vice President Hamid Ansari. They clearly hoped all political parties would fall for the ‘minority’ card.
But the allies and others expected to support the Congress choice became restive. They feared a Pratibha Patil-style rabbit would be presented as fait accompli at the last minute, leaving them no choice but to go along. Some of them put their foot down firmly, stating they would announce support for the candidate of the ruling party only once the name was formally announced. The insulted Union Finance Minister also reputedly made his displeasure known, conveying a threat to resign if another name were floated at the last minute and thereby plunge the shaky regime into fresh crisis.
Cornered, the Signora made one last attempt at a much publicized meeting with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. It is still unclear why Ms Banerjee went to see Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav prior to this meeting. But she burst a bomb on Sonia Gandhi when she came out of the meeting with her the next day and informed the media that the Congress president had proposed two names, viz., Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari. Clearly Banerjee was expected to lean towards the ‘minority’ man. This unexpected exposé put the Signora on the back foot.
Banerjee and Mulayam Singh then set the cat among the pigeons by jointly proposing – in no particular order – the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. This just about spooked everyone.
Uncertain who was behind this manoeuvre, an upset Prime Minister is said to have conveyed to the party high command that as he had to attend some crucial meetings like the G-20, he should be told if he should proceed abroad or quit. After all, the backroom boys had for months been planting hints in the media that he was a good choice for Rashtrapati Bhavan; a Samajwadi Party leader even taunted that the party would support Rahul Gandhi for the prime ministership if a vacancy arose. Mukherjee on his part made it clear that the candidate had to be announced before Dr Manmohan Singh went abroad, or else…
Sonia Gandhi was cornered, and the rest is history. The spin doctors jumped in for damage control saying Dr Manmohan Singh would serve his full term and Sonia Gandhi announced the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee without further ado. The DMK and NCP quickly backed the choice. Mulayam Singh dumped Mamata Banerjee without remorse. As the Shiv Sena, Janata Dal (United) and sections of the Left joined the bandwagon, the Bengali stalwart seems well on the way to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
All this is well known.
What is inexplicable, and disgraceful, is the manner in which former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma, a founder member of the Nationalist Congress Party, was suddenly proffered as a candidate for the Presidency by Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
To this day, it remains unclear if Mr. Sangma had asked the NCP to sponsor him for the post, and then approached the other regional parties on being rejected. What is known is that after he was thus sponsored by the two chief ministers, the NCP chief Sharad Pawar politely stated that the NCP was too small a party to aspire to such a large post and that Sangma should drop the idea. Pawar was emphatic that the NCP would abide by coalition dharma and support the choice of the dominant Congress Party.
With neither public morality nor political propriety on his side, Sangma remained unfazed. He found nothing wrong with his daughter Agatha, a sitting member of the Manmohan Singh cabinet, canvassing support for him in defiance of all norms of decency, and the father-daughter duo continued to brazen it out for weeks. It is a sad commentary on the Congress and the UPA that this political immorality was tolerated for so many weeks, and that till the time of writing this piece, Agatha Sangma continues to serve as a member of the Union cabinet.
The greatest objection to Purno Sangma is that he is a Christian convert masquerading as a Tribal, when it is well known that conversion obliterates previous native identities. And in the typical manner of converts guided by local pastors, he broke away from his political party, the NCP, when it refused to support him; mercifully he could not split the party, which remained united behind Pawar.
It should be clear to all that Purno Sangma does not have the status to defy his own party and split the ranks of the NDA – with the Shiv Sena and Janata Dal-United preferring to support Pranab Mukherjee, and the Bharatiya Janata Party inexplicably supporting his candidature – without the powerful backing and facilitation of the church.
It is also no coincidence that the Union Finance Minister has concurrently become the victim of a massive campaign of calumny launched by Hindus with American citizenship and their Indian allies, blaming him for all kinds of sins of omission and commission. These Internet Hindus consistently try to nullify the importance of a devoutly religious Hindu – the head priest of a family temple – ascending to the nation’s most prestigious office.
Sangma has hinted at an insidious agenda and dark game plan, saying, “The election will be by a secret ballot. Secret ballot means conscience vote. I depend on conscience vote and I believe in conscience vote.” Elaborating, he has warned that the fact that there is a “split” in almost all political parties [read alliances] shows that this Presidential election is “not as smooth as the Congress is claiming.”
Since Sangma is well aware that all political parties routinely issue whips on voting for such crucial elections, there is no question of a free so-called conscience vote. What he does mean is that he expects his Church backers to provide some kind of ‘facilitation’ for his election. This is a dangerous manoeuvre for the nation, and parties supporting his candidature would do well to re-think the issue.
The BJP needs to explain the support to Purno Sangma. The party never had its own candidate for the post, but long before the exercise of finding a person had begun anywhere, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, openly said the BJP would not support Pranab Mukherjee. Was this a command performance at the behest of ‘friends’ in the Congress who wanted the cancel Mukherjee as a contender?
The RSS chief needlessly jumped into a Narendra Modi-Nitish Kumar face-off to say that the organisation favoured a ‘people’s President’ like Dr. Kalam (who was never seriously sponsored by anyone, as Mulayam Singh later clarified while supporting Mukherjee), and also wanted a Hindu-wadi prime minister (for which no election is currently due!).
So how did the BJP suddenly support a Christian convert for the post of President, and how and why did Dr Subramanian Swamy emerge as BJP major domo on this sensitive matter? Both RSS and BJP must explain how and why they allowed this de-Hinduisation of their identity to take place?
By far the ugliest move in the presidential campaign was made by Dr Swamy on 22 June 2012, when he issued a press statement hectoring DMK chief M. Karunanidhi in the most unacceptable language:-
“I demand that DMK President Mr. Karunanidhi apologize to the Tamil people for cheating them for the last fifty years claiming to represent the Dravidian Movement founded by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker on British Imperialists instigation to divide the country. The Dravidian Movement claims that India is of two nations, viz., the north Aryan nation and the southern Dravidian nation and that under the strategy chalked out by the Brahmins of north India, the Aryans brute force conquered the south India.
Although the word ‘Dravidian’ was invented as a “sandhi” of two Sanskrit words to mean where the three oceans meet, that is, South India, the British cooked up a lie that the Dravidian was a Tamil word representing a separate nation. This was then propagated by EV Ramaswamy Naicker and his fanatical followers like Mr. Karunanidhi.
Today in the Presidential election we finally discover what a big fraud Mr. Karunanidhi is. He has decided to support a north Indian Aryan Brahmin [emphasis ours], namely, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee against a tribal Mr. P.A. Sangma. Mr. Karunanidhi also has a hatred for the Hindu religion spreading canards during the last fifty years against the Hindu religion. Now we discover that Mr. Karunanidhi supporting a devout follower of Durga, namely, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee against a Christian Mr. Sangma [emphasis ours]. If Mr. Karunanidhi is serious about his fifty years of Dravidian ideology, then he must immediately withdraw his support to Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and extend it to Mr. Sangma, otherwise Tamil people will know what a great fraud Mr. Karunanidhi is.
The above is a perfect example of how the Church creates fissures in society and expands its power base by exploiting the same. Dr Swamy must explain to the nation what stake he has in the election of the “Christian Mr. Sangma” that he should spew such anti-national venom at Mr. Karunanidhi for supporting the “North Indian Aryan brahmin Pranab.”
Doesn’t Dr Swamy realize that if the DMK leadership is gently shedding the poison injected in Indian polity and society by the British Raj, it is an act of great statesmanship? Do RSS-BJP-Dr Swamy really wish to push the DMK into a dangerous political apartheid just to score brownie points for their adopted candidate? Don’t they realize that only the Church will gain from this exercise of dividing the polity by manipulating gullible stooges, and that the real danger lies in the future when it may again try to foist an unwanted Christian as Prime Minister?
Whom the Gods destroy, they first drive mad. This has happened to a huge swathe of our polity.
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