Why Pranab was bumped off: reality behind the presidential race
It is almost certain that Pranab Mukherjee will be President, but the sequence of events leading up to his nomination needs more explaining.
Earlier this week Manmohan Singh evoked ‘animal spirits’ of the economy and thankfully only the bulls on the stock-market heard the call and the Sensex shot up by over 400 points in a day. So what lies behind the ‘animal instincts’ statement a day after taking over as Finance Minister?
Manmohan Singh has had his share of hollow statements in terms of the economy – endlessly blaming global factors and classical statements like ‘there is no magic wand’. One looks to magic for solutions only when one is convinced that a timely solution does not exist in the real world. The ‘magic wand’ statement is in fact an acceptance of guilt – that the economy has been dragged so deep in trouble that it will take a long time, if at all, to make any progress.
Given this backdrop, how did the mumbling Manmohan come up with some mumbo-jumbo on GAAR to shore up the markets, two days after Pranab Mukherjee’s departure. The answer is that it perhaps has more to do with Mukherjee’s ousting from the Cabinet. Why couldn’t this announcement have been done when the rupee and GDP were breaching new lows – why the wait for Pranab to move out? It but is obvious that there was a plan to deprive Pranab of any credit. In fact on the following day all newspapers screamed on the front pages “Reforms back on track in FinMin as Pranab leaves”
There is sufficient evidence to show that Pranab Mukherjee never had any economic ideology. In fact Pranab has never strongly expressed his affiliation towards any sort of ideology – be it (pseudo)secularism, loyalty towards the Gandhis, affirmative action etc. It is this openness that won him friends across the political spectrum. Thus, while Sonia Gandhi needed him, she never really wanted him.
Pranab was not the first to quote the global scenario as an excuse for our economy – other Congressmen were. He has been one of the few in the high-handed Cabinet, to concede that there is a problem in the economy and steps need to be taken to fix it. Yet, despite recognising the need to act, why did Pranab never act? Perhaps because he was not allowed.
Sonia was never really a fan of Pranab Mukherjee. For, he is a practising Hindu and has never adequately demonstrated his subservience to “the family”. Yes, he was loyal to Indira, but not to the family. Thus, Sonia ensured that Pranab’s hands were tied and he was forced to watch the economy slide downwards while continuing to burden the exchequer with populist freebies. Sonia had probably outsourced the task of opposing reforms to Mamata. Example: There was no way the Trinamool could react to the Railway Budget in 7-mins (the time between when Railway Minister Trivedi announced the fare hikes and Derek O’Brien’s tweet). The TMC was informed in advance, and the ensuing drama was in fact a well planned strategy. Using allies as an alibi, Sonia chained the Finance Ministry’s (and other “enemy” ministers’) policies.
Sonia probably used P.Chidambaram to monitor Pranab. Considering that Pranab was the No.2 in the Cabinet there was no way anyone could get away with bugging his office, unless of course they had the blessings of Sonia. Also, with PC heading the Gandhis’ money-laundering department, he had all the support he needed to play these dirty games.
The Presidential election was an ideal opportunity to bump-off Pranab. He was too dangerous to be allowed to become Prime Minister and hence had to be eliminated once and for all. There was absolutely no reason for Mamata to reject Pranab or Mulayam to reject Ansari. M & M were but hand-maidens of Sonia. Their press conference nominating Manmohan Singh for the Presidentship was an absolute farce. It gave the Congress and opportunity to “react” and they nominated Pranab for President. There is no precedent of the most powerful man in government being nominated for Presidency. Has any member of the most powerful Gandhi-Nehru family ever aspired / been nominated for Presidentship? Never. Clearly, this is not an elevation for Pranab – it is an elimination.
Pranab’s nomination was also an invitation for Congress detractors to attack him. Hitherto the attack was focused on the Gandhis, PC and Sibals; Pranab had been largely left out. Even Team Anna had said that their discussions with Pranab were the most fruitful in the height of the Lokpal agitation. But with the Presidential nomination, Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Pranab had been involved in the Scorpene scam. Pranab’s links with the Ambanis was dragged out of the closet (which may be true, but not relevant today). The blame for the economic mess was attributed to Pranab.
What a master stroke – now the Congress can get away with gimmickry on the economy and blame Pranab for all the mess. Rahul is ready to be Prime Minister! Now that is what we call a magic wand!