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Politics behind him, Pranab set for a new innings

Last updated on: July 10, 2012 21:00 IST

Politics behind him, Pranab set for a new innings

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

As Pranab Mukherjee looks increasing likely to be the next incumbent of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he seems relaxed and humbled. So how will he be as the next President? 'Only time will tell,' he says. Sheela Bhatt reports from New Delhi

Pranab Mukherjee, the United Progressive Alliance's candidate for the President's post, is all set to launch his new career, may be a new life.

He is determined to give a proper burial to his five decades long political career. In fact, he quoted a Sanskrit shalok to a Bengali journalist, recently, to say that he has done the 'pind-dan' to his career and now he wants to start afresh. He seems to have been deeply touched by 'God's grace'.

A rejuvenated Mukherjee is all set to reside in Rashtrapati Bhavan. The glimpse of it is already visible. His body language shows that he is feeling humbled by his success in getting the nomination. His team is expecting more than 65 per cent of the votes in his favour and he is trying to get 70 per cent.

The hardcore Congress politician is all set to become President and the ecstasy of getting into the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan is visible on his face, his actions and his talks. He is smiling more than ever, greeting everyone with a namaste. He seems to be trying to carve himself as a "people's President".

He has visited more than 15 states so far to campaign for his election.

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While talking to journalists he is at ease but conscious to not talk about fellow Bengali Mamta Banerjee, who has not given her support to him.

He is politically correct, always. That is quite easy for Dada, as he is fondly addressed in New Delhi.

Even though, at a personal level Mukherjee has been living simply all his life he has been a canny administrator and politician on the side of the establishment, always. It is given that the paraphernalia and etiquettes of Rashtrapati Bhavan are unlikely to trouble him.

The most frequently asked question is will he be the rubber stamp President of the incumbent government or he will show a Zail Singh kind of independent streak if the situation arises?

Most people who know him personally think that he will follow the Constitution in the letter and spirit. Some, also, argue that Dada is not a person who will rebel nor he is a man with a radical bent of mind.

But, the critics of the Congress interpret his future by arguing that if Dada follows the Constitution, as argued by the people who know him well, then it is safe to assume that he will not follow shamelessly the dictates of his former party as it was done by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

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Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

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In grey areas of the Constitution, he will reveal his true self without coming under pressure from his party. 

Even though he is criss-cross the country and meeting journalists warmly he doesn't entertain serious questions like the controversy over his signature. For him it is a time to tread carefully since a lot is at stake.

Like Ahmed and Zail Singh he is, also, a sitting MP who has been nominated for the post.

So he can vote for himself. However, he said he will ask legal pundits about it.

When he is nudged about Mamta's political stand against him he quotes Winston Churchill who said, once, "In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity."

On Tuesday in New Delhi he met the media. Unlike his days in power when he was at the centre of political manoeuvrings, he acted like a netaji. He shook hands with cameramen, photographers and reporters. 

When asked about his 'unfinished agenda' when he was in active politics, Mukherjee said, "That you will have to evaluate."

Mukherjee has been writing a personal diary for many years. Some of it was spoiled when the basement of her daughter's house in New Delhi was flooded. He said he has given his daughter the remaining diaries. She will sort it out and publish it after his death. 

He was asked if he plans to write about his days in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee said, "I have the intention of writing something."

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Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

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When asked to speak on Sangma's comments against him, he said, "No (question on) Sangma!"

"Everybody has their own perception about things," he said when asked about the Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign against him.

The two distinct features about Mukherjee's campaign is that without the Trinamool Congress's votes he will be able to win but not getting overwhelming Bengali votes is making him little uncomfortable.

He at one point of time said, "Let her (Mamta) decide whatever she wants to."

Second, as there is a weak opposition to his candidacy, Mukherjee is beaming with confidence. The man who knows best the internal mechanism of the heartless city of New Delhi should be confident too.

He has spent 50 years inside the power set-up of India and has done it all, seen it all. The winning of the presidential election is surely going to be easier than winning the nomination from his party which witnessed such political drama.

When asked what kind of role he will play in the Rashtrapati Bhavan he said, "that only the future can tell."

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Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

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