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For Mamata, the Presidential game is over

By B Raman
Last updated on: June 17, 2012 09:43 IST
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Once AJP Abdul Kalam exits the Presidential race noting can stop Pranab Mukherjee from winning.

The remark of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee that the game is not over yet has given rise to a fresh bout of speculation regarding the possible political scenarios in the wake of her losing the Presidential poll cards as a result of her impulsively playing them.

For Mamata, the Presidential game is over. She will not be able to retrieve her cards. If she is trying to hint that she still has some cards up her sleeve, she is just whistling in the dark at this moment of understandable petulance. Nothing more.

Once APJ Abdul Kalam decides not to be a losing candidate and spoil his brilliant record in India's contemporary history, nothing can stop Pranab Mukherjee from winning. The only question now is whether PA Sangma will withdraw thereby enabling Pranabda to win unopposed or will he remain in the field as a mark of protest over the non-nomination of a tribal candidate for India's high office. Even if Sangma remains, Pranabda's win is certain.

The political managers of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who have proved adept in managing and overcoming what seemed like a major embarrassment, will now focus on placating Sangma either by offering to support him or a tribal candidate of mutual choice such as James Lyngdoh, former chief election commissioner as the vice-president.

The speculation and assessments that with the storm over the Presidential elections blowing over it will now be smooth-sailing for the Congress and the UPA till 2014 are over-optimistic. Mamata's Presidential game is practically over, but her pinpricks game will continue.

Even before the controversy over the Presidential polls she had repeatedly demonstrated this. That value remains intact and could increase in the coming weeks as a result of political developments in Andhra Pradesh. One understands from sources in Delhi that the political managers of the Congress are worried about the dangers of Jaganmohan Reddy can pose. They are worried about the defections of Congress MLAs and MPs in Andhra, especially after YSR Congress's thumping victory in the by-polls on Friday.   

The political rollercoaster will continue. The Union cabinet headed by Dr Manmohan Singh is now facing pinpricks from West Bengal. It may start facing pinpricks from Andhra too.

There are various speculations as to what Mamata can do next. One view is that being an emotional person she may be thawed by Pranabda's references that she is "almost like my sister".

But permanent defiance is a defining characteristic of Mamata. The Communists learnt it in West Bengal. She will be looking for ways of fresh defiance if she loses the cards in the Presidential game.  

Dr Singh is not going to regain his credibility as a result of the feel-good atmosphere in the Congress following the favourable developments relating to the Presidential polls. The political crisis that seemed to be looming on this issue has been skilfully overcome by the political managers of Sonia Gandhi.


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B Raman in New Delhi
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