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Prez poll: Game changer was Mulayam's betrayal of Kalam

Last updated on: June 22, 2012 20:11 IST

Prez poll: Game changer was Mulayam's betrayal of Kalam

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Sheela Bhatt

As the race for the President reaches it non-exciting climax, it is clear that no political constituent is winning with dignity, says Sheela Bhatt.

As the non-exciting contest between United Progressive Alliance nominee Pranab Mukherjee and non-Congress parties supported candidate P A Sangma is underway, a side story of betrayal by Mulayam Singh Yadav is getting silently buried. Mulayam's act has left Dr A P J Abdul Kalam deeply disappointed.

The press conference by Mamata Banerjee and Yadav on June 13 that stunned the Congress was a result of many days of hard work by many parties including a section of the Bharatiya Janata Party led by L K Advani.

At the press conference, both regional leaders launched three names -- Dr Kalam, prime minister Manmohan Singh and former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee -- as their presidential choices. Out of three names they were serious about Dr Kalam with whom they had established contacts through intermediaries.

There was a kind of synchronisation of political moves with the BJP sitting on the margins.

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Image: AJP Abdul Kalam pulled out of the presidential race
Photographs: Reuters

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Yadav's flip-flop spolit TMC, BJP's plan to checkmate Cong

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Normally Dr Kalam, who himself has a deft understanding of politics and whose popularity is that of a rock star, would not have liked his name to be dragged in maneuverings amongst political parties. According to a source close to Dr Kalam, before the press conference, Yadav had spoken to Dr Kalam not once but twice to assure him of his support. 

The source says that Yadav had clearly told Dr Kalam that "hum aap ke saath hai."

Clearly the Congress was caught napping till the shock came through the press conference. It took time for their leaders to measure the depth of the 'anti-Congress conspiracy' of the UPA ally Banerjee and Yadav. Their moves were known to a section of the BJP.

However, as we know, the Congress got over the jolt the next day and took a grip over the situation and brought back Mulayam into the fold in a midnight operation. As a result of Yadav's flip-flop, the Trinmool's and BJP's plan to checkmate the Congress came a cropper.

The BJP-Trinmool strategy collapsed overnight and the Congress has the upper hand, now. The Mukherjee camp has brought out the knives to ensure that they win by a maximum margin.



Image: Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and West Bengal CM and Trinamool Chief hold a press conference where they rejected Sonia Gandhi's nominee for the president's post. Yadav later did a U-turn
Photographs: TV grab
Tags: Yadav , BJP , Dr Kalam , Congress , TMC

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If Yadav had not ditched Dr Kalam, Mukherjee would have been shaken

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If Yadav had not ditched Dr Kalam, Mukherjee would have been shaken to the core.

The failed plan has created bad blood within the BJP. Advani's coterie is being blamed for the botched up affair. The leaders who were not part of the operation to pop up Kalam says the history of post-1990 politics suggests that Yadav is not a reliable ally and the mission to check-mate Congress through the presidential election was bound to fail because the BJP never had the numbers nor the political standing to attract 'secular forces behind it'.

A few months back, BJP leaders had given enough thought over the issue.

Everybody knew that to 'defeat the Congress gameplan for the presidential election', the Samajwadi Party, Trinmool Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party are three important players. Out of these three if two switch sides with 'non-Congress' parties then there was no possibility for the Congress to dictate its candidate.

The BJP accepted that it has no numbers to play a significant role. Two, they thought -- if before announcing the UPA candidate if the Congress approaches them 'respectfully' then they would take a call.


Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee


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Congress left BJP with no choice but to contest

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Congress leaders claim that the BJP wanted to bargain for the vice-president's post, which they would not have agreed to so the consensus for a presidential candidate was made impossible by the BJP.

When on June 14, Dr Singh called Advani to seek the support for the UPA candidate, Advani told Dr Singh that he would have liked if he has asked him before they took the decision. The prime minister simply said, "Better late than ever."

BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley say the Congress has left them with no choice but to contest.

Within the BJP, it was not an easy decision to oppose Mukherjee who has good relations with Advani, Sushma and Jaitley. Advani joined Parliament in 1970 and Mukherjee in 1969. Both are fellow travelers since the last 42 years.

But it was Mamata's political daring that drew Advani closer to the idea of supporting Kalam against Mukherjee.

She sprung a surprise when she agreed to go for Dr Kalam and later Yadav agreed in closed doors meetings.  


Image: BJP is backing P A Sangma for the Presidential poll


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Mualayam has lost prestige and something more

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The BJP's predicament of living with a communal tag (due to it they cannot launch their own candidate and curry support) and their less-than marginal role in the game because they have not-so-strategic votes is not a new story but it's intriguing to see Yadav first agree with the behind-the-scenes plot to launch Kalam for President and then withdrew in the middle of night. It is the biggest story of the drama that has so far been played out in New Delhi.

Mualayam Singh Yadav has lost prestige and something more.

A wounded and outsmarted BJP is now saying Yadav's move to shift back to the Congress will seriously hurt the idea of a third front. For non-Congress and non-BJP parties Mulayam's betrayal of Kalam means that regional parties are vulnerable in New Delhi and are cursed to remain under the shadow of the two main parties. The event has dented Mulayam's credibility seriously to be a reliable ally. The BJP also says in Andhra Pradesh and in West Bengal, the UPA will feel the heat, post the presidential election.


Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
Photographs: Reuters

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UPA hurt with Trinamool drifting away

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So far it is clear that no political constituent is winning with dignity.

The UPA is hurt with the Trinmool drifting away. The National Democratic Alliance has been given the jitters by Nitish Kumar's snide remarks. The BJP is unable to do a thing to rebut him. Mukherjee will have to strive hard to increase his margin to 80 per cent. Sangma is being used by the losers who have been outsmarted by Congress party as they have power at their disposal and as some critics like Subramanian Swamy say, "with help of the strategic weapon called the CBI."

Mulayam's treachery which will go into folklore as Dr Kalam has gone back to the children and youth of the country who are craving for inspiration.


Image: Banerjee interacts with Congress President Sonia Gandhi duringa a rally


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