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Sonia's weight increases, Pranab's chances diminish

By Sheela Bhatt
June 04, 2012 22:43 IST
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How can one imagine the future President of India moving the resolution requesting his party president to select him, asks Sheela Bhatt while analysing the Congress party's decision to ask Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to move the resolution authorising the Congress president to select the party's presidential nominee.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's chances of becoming the next President of India were always dim, but one was watching how tactfully he will be denied the post by his party or how he will be put under obligation if at all the party is forced to allot him the post for external reasons and moves of the opposition parties.

It is a significant move by the Congress party's managers, who asked senior-most party man Mukherjee to move the resolution, on behalf of the Congress Working Committee, to authorise party president Sonia Gandhi to decide on the candidates for the forthcoming presidential and vice-presidential elections.

That was the main purpose of the CWC that was held in New Delhi on Monday and the job was done neatly, in Congress style.

The significance of Mukherjee, who is considered the front runner in the race for the President's post, moving the resolution and later addressing the press conference, was a pointer to the decision Sonia would be taking. 

Congressmen and Congress-watchers are divided on the move.

Some think this is a routine move. Others see it as the final pointer that Mukherjee would not be the party's choice for the President's post and that even if he is nominated by Sonia, she will get the full credit. 

A senior party source said, "Mukherjee is the senior-most leader. So, the party asked him to move the resolution. That does not mean he is out of the race."

Another Congress leader, a member of the CWC, said: "The game is on. Pranab's case is still open."

If the party had to move the resolution, keeping open the issue of Pranab getting the nomination, there was Defence Minister A K Antony sitting on the dais at the meeting. He could have, very well, also moved the resolution. 

Of course, Congress leaders are emphasising that in most likelihood party president has not made up her mind yet on the Congress's candidate for the President's post.

In fact, a party source claimed that Sonia would take more than a week to decide on the Congress's nominee's name. 

The source also dismissed the rumour in New Delhi that Sonia is soon going abroad for a medical check-up.

Mukherjee's choice to move the resolution has convinced political observers that it is 'a well-considered move' by Sonia.

A senior journalist, who has covered the Congress for three decades, says that it is strange that the person who is supposed to be one of the frontrunners to the post of President is asked to move the resolution. It puts a question mark on the viability of his candidacy.

How can one imagine the future President of India moving the resolution requesting his party president to select him?

That may belittle Mukherjee's stature. 

When Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj spoke out-of-turn on the issue of presidential election, the Congress won the first round. 

On Monday, by asking Mukherjee to move the resolution -- which is feudal in nature but in sync with old tradition of the Congress -- Sonia has strengthened her political position in the game of selecting the next President of India. 

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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