Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why Kalam should be the President of India

Amidst the mess that the search for India’s Prez resembles, there is a silver lining – Abdul Kalam is back in the reckoning.
If the celestial stars and the numbers are in the right place, the most deserving of the various candidates now in the fray for occupying Raisina Hill is back in the reckoning - former President A P J Abdul Kalam. 
Arguably, no President of Independent India has fired the imagination of the citizens as this former President. The former rocket scientist had, with his child-like enthusiasm, energy and most of all, his sync with grammar and language of New India , become an icon of his times - the people's president. 
He rescued the presidency from the prisoner that an incumbent of Rashtrapati Bhawan had become - of protocol, propriety and ceremony. It was as if, the highest office of the land had to necessarily stand above and beyond the citizens to retain its place under the Indian sun. Seen and heard only on ceremonial occasions keeping to a prepared script and protocol. 
President Kalam broke that mould and reached out to the citizens, especially the young; with a sincerity, panache and aplomb which far from eroding the eminence or authority of the highest office burnished it as no president before or since. He proved to be an extraordinary president, India's best.
When he left office he had provided a tutorial for his successors on how to raise the bar in the functioning of an Indian President. Unfortunately, in the last five years the baton that Kalam passed on has been dropped. President Pratibha Patil's tenure has been singularly lacklustre and banal - with many reports questioning her propriety, if not her integrity. 
Time has come again for the presidency to be priced out of the hands of political legatees. Or, be treated as just a sinecure for services rendered to political families or political parties. Surely, the highest office of the land deserves better. 
Who then, more qualified than Kalam on every stringent benchmark that you can throw at him - past record, integrity, honesty, constitutional propriety? And, most of all - the respect and affection of the larger body of citizens. 
The yearning for Kalam is a not a cry in the wilderness. 
While the shock that Mamata and Mulayam administered to the UPA may be more to do with the latter's antipathy to both the Congress nominees Pranab (for past wrongs done to her by the Congress stalwart) and Hamid Ansari (for being the nominee of the Left) rather than her overwhelming love for Kalam, if the duo stick to the stated positions then Kalam has every chance. 
For, the numbers do stack up. Because in an electoral college of 10,98,882, Mamata's Trinamool Congress has 48,044 votes while Mulayam's Samajwadi Party has 68,771. Without their numbers, the UPA will be hard pushed to get their nominee past the post. 
The NDA, who have so far been off the radar in the run-up to the presidential polls due to lack of numbers will latch on to Kalam. Not just because they are Kalam-positive but also because it will be a handy stick to embarrass the ruling Congress and exacerbate the dissensions that the selection will cause among the UPA coalition. 
That will encourage the non-UPA parties, Mamata and Mulayam (and possibly Mayawati) to coalesce their support around the candidate that is palatable to all - A P J Abdul Kalam. Will the numbers and the arcane compulsions of our political class bring the 'Bharat Ratna' back to where he belongs?


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