Random thoughts on the Presidential race

Rupa Gulab

Before UPA II formally announced Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as their presidential candidate, I was very worried. There was talk about producing not a cute rabbit but a dark horse out of a hat, and we know what happened the last time around: Pratibha Patil, for heaven’s sake! The only inspiration I’ve drawn from her is an idea for a book which I shall call Around the World on Taxpayers’ Money.  

So, yes, I was hugely relieved when Mukherjee’s name was announced, despite the fact that the charming Arvind Kejriwal, who is so keen on the BJP winning the next general election, grabbed the mike and belligerently started demanding a probe into Mukherjee’s past. I must add here that several people I respect have also murmured mildly about Mukherjee’s not so illustrious past, but I don’t care. The man has worked hard for years, he’s not a slacker and if he wants to retire in a fabulous house with the fragrant Mughal Gardens attached, well, he’s earned it. Much more than the likes of Patil, at any rate. 

And now on to the BJP. Poor LK Advani must be torn in two; half of him is still hoping that he’ll become prime minister in 2014 despite the fact that his party seems dead against the idea, and the other half is probably shattered that no one in his party recommended his name for president at the very least. His name will not feature in history textbooks (with or without cartoons) and for that I am grateful. In my books, he is not a nice man. Even the gallivanting Patil is better than him. 

Former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma disgraced himself by shamelessly going around the country with a begging bowl, pleading “Vote for me! Please! Please! Please!” And if the Opposition (this includes a troublesome UPA II ally as well, of course) does put him up as their candidate and he eventually wins, I think I’ll be sick. We’ve already started disrespecting him— and if and when he’s sworn in, rest assured he’ll be sworn at on Twitter. Maaf karo! 

Then there’s, the troublesome UPA II ally, Mamata Banerjee. What can I say about Mamatadi that I haven’t said before? Let me put it this way, if she starts a blog, it really should be called amblingsofaseverelydelusionalmind.bongspot.ugh or arroganthumourlessdictator.bongspot.ugh or  regressivesubversivewailingbanshee.bongspot.ugh— well, something along those lines. She wanted to humiliate the sitting prime minister by naming him as one of her recommendations for presidential candidate— the cheek! In the end, it was lovely to see her getting her comeuppance — the slippery Mulayam Singh Yadav slimed out of the deal and Mamatadi was left screeching with egg splattered on her face. Hooray!

Even her Facebook page solemnly telling us why we should support former president APJ Abdul Kalam left us unimpressed — hello, we can’t vote in these elections, so what was she hoping for, a revolution on social networking sites?

Come on, we regard her as a joke, there’s no way we’ll take her seriously. One thing, however, is clear. If, thanks to Mamatadi’s populist policies, people in West Bengal can’t afford to buy soap, at least they get soap operas for free! Oh, and another thing is clear too: If Mamatadi doesn’t ditch the histrionics and start improving the economy of West Bengal, fragrant garlands will be prepared for the Left parties during the next state elections. Admittedly, we aren’t fond of the Left — but we’re growing less fond of Mamatadi every second. And it’s all her fault! 

As for APJ Abdul Kalam, I cannot understand why such a big deal is being made of him but I suspect his rockstar status is mainly because he’s a scientist and has never been a politician. Frankly, the only thing he inspired me to do during his tenure as president was to find a good barber for him. He seriously needs a decent haircut. Interestingly, Kalam has dashed Mamatadi’s hopes by bowing out of the race— and now she’s got enough egg on her face to make a masala omelette for the entire city of Kolkata. 

As I write this, there is still a week to go before the president is elected. Anything can happen between now and then, absolutely anything — so get ready for
more laughs!

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JULY 2012