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Drama over Prez polls opens box of conspiracy theories

By A Correspondent
June 14, 2012 02:24 IST
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Was a Mumbai tycoon behind Wednesday's political drama? A Rediff Correspondent discusses the conspiracy theories making the rounds.

The season of conspiracy theories has truly arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday with Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav not toeing Congress party President Sonia Gandhi's line in selecting a Congress candidate for the Presidential election.

Their decision has hit the ruling United Progressive Alliance's stability.

The most talked about theory is that Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav really played the Congress game. There is tremendous anger among many Congressmen against the "non-performing" Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee wants to become prime minister, but when that did not appear possible, he started nursing an ambition to be President.

Since Sonia Gandhi and Mukherjee have a trust deficit, observers believed the finance minister stood no chance of moving to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential palace.

Congress leaders have also been wary of the possible role Omita Paul -- a finance ministry official who enjoys Mukherjee's confidence -- will play if he became President.

Many critics of the Congress party believe this is a case of the party playing its cards too cleverly by half. It tried to use Banerjee and Yadav to knock down Mukherjee, but the regional superpowers just took the game away, and now the Congress plan has fallen flat.

Another conspiracy theory is that the Congress always had a dark horse as its nominee. Party leaders wanted the regional leaders to kill Mukherjee's chances to become President.

Another sensational theory is that a Mumbai tycoon, who is close to Yadav and is against Prime Minister Singh, is behind Wednesday's drama. This businessmen is quite close to Mukherjee.

In all these conspiracy theories, a few things become clear.

The West Bengal chief minister has an understanding with the Bharatiya Janta Party and is trying to ensure that the next vice-president is a non-Congressperson.

Two, it is clear that Sonia Gandhi did not give just one name -- Pranab Mukherjee -- as Banerjee claimed. If this is true, this is clearly indicative of her less-than-strong support for Mukherjee's candidature.

If she truly supported Mukherjee's nomination she would have given Banerjee only one name, instead of adding on Vice-President Hamid Ansari as well. This fact is enough to give oxygen to the conspiracy theories.

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A Correspondent in New Delhi
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