Do not go by SMS polls and popularity ratings, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the United Progressive Alliance’s presidential candidate Pratibha Patil when she called on the Union Cabinet on Thursday. The people of India don’t elect the President, it is the elected representatives who elect him, Mukherjee is reported to have told her.The comment was obviously directed at President APJ Abdul Kalam who is clearly the people’s choice to continue in Rashtrapati Bhavan. On rediff.com’s poll, for instance, he enjoys almost 90 percent popularity rating.
Yes Mr. Mukherjee. Right on. Don’t worry about what the people want. And don’t worry about the small matter that as elected representative, you are kind of obligated to listen to people. Or at the very least, pretend to. And at the leastest, not to publicly announce (yes I know it is “reported” that he said it) that it doesn’t matter what the people want.
But we knew that of course. The one person who matters now is the “madam” since the Congress world is only the second institution in the world where the writ of the “madam” is beyond question. (The other institutuion where the madam is so revered is a house of ill repute). And Pratibha Patil, the chosen one, is the model Congressman having shown unquestioned devotion to the Family by sticking to Indira “the great dictator” Gandhi during the charming days of the Emergency. True, she has some “Cheeni kum hain” problems but then which politician expects to pay back a 17.5 crore-rupee loan—I am sure as someone who stood by the Family the least she can expect is that her loan gets “written off”.
Rajdeep Sardesai points to the regionalist reactions in some quarters to Ms. Patil’s candidature.
Within minutes of Mrs Pratibha Patil being “chosen” as the UPA’s candidate for president, a chain sms was floated: “After 300 years, the Marathas are finally set to conquer Delhi”, a reminder that defeat in the third battle of Panipat still rankles. The next morning, the Marathi papers were equally euphoric: “Maharashtra’s day in the sun has come at last!” thundered one headline. Even the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamna, set aside political differences to celebrate what it described as a “historic opportunity” for the “Marathi manoos”.
I must confess, my regional genes were riding high too at the prospect of a Maharashtrian lady occupying the highest constitutional post in the country.
And Jayalalitha’s espousal of Kalam also seems to stem from similar sentiments.
According to AIADMK sources, Jayalalitha had a significant say in Monday’s meet here on the choice of Kalam as the newly formed front’s nominee.
Her choice also appeared to be guided by the politics in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK and its allies in the state have been pushing for Kalam, who is a scientist of repute as well as a Tamil from the Hindu holy town of Rameswaram.
In this context, I propose Shivaji Rao Gaekwad aka Rajinikanth aka the Thalaivar as my Presidential nominee. First, both Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu can claim him as their own. I realized this by following this comments thread—by far the longest in the Indian blogosphere with over 1100 comments. Second, we need some presidential pizzaz. The post of India’s first citizen and the vice-president, over the years ,has become safe sinecures for battle-weary geriatrocrats to enjoy taxpayer-sponsored luxuries before God puts them to sleep. Which is why the common people almost never have any kind of interest in who becomes the president. The only exception is of course APJ Kalam who people really seem to care for—maybe because he earns respect for his academic achievements and personal probity. However he is out of the race having been reminded by Laloo to resign “gracefully” —-resigning with grace being a concept Laloo Prasad Yadav knows much about.
But things will be different if Rajinikanth becomes the president. People will start caring. To put it mildly. There will be mini-riots in Malaysia when the President of India comes visiting. People will throw confetti and popcorn when he comes to inaugurate a government building. They will fly down from Australia to hear him address the nation on TV. When President Mush tries to browbeat him, he will flip his glasses around, raise his finger and wag it in the General’s face.
Then when he rejects Afzal’s mercy petition and even after that the Arundhati Roys come to ask him to “reconsider” , he will thunder:
Naan oru dharavai sonna nooru dharavai sonna maadhiri. (If I say it once, it’s akin to having said it a hundred times.)
Just imagine the great Roy’s face after that.
Our neighbourhood friends, who waste no opportunity to try to harm us, will know that the commander of our armed forces is no wuss.
Chittoor Thaandina Kaatpaadi, Sivajiya cheendinaa Dead Body!” (If you cross Chittoor you will reach Kaatpaadi, If you tease Sivaji Rao Gaekwad you will become a dead body!)
And that no matter how much they gang up against us, they should remember:
Kanna panninga dhaan kootama varum, singam single-a dhaan varum (Pigs come in a gang, only the lion (India) walks alone.)
When a constitutional crisis takes place with no-confidence motions and defections and political parties come parleying to get a glimpse into the mind of the President so as to determine which side he will favour, only Rajinikanth can throw them into confusion with a
Naan solrathaiyum seiven, sollaathathiyum seiven ( “I will do what I say, may also do what I don’t say.)
This is the kind of president I want. The kind you don’t mess with. A Bachelor of Social Service (BOSS). And most importantly, a president you love. [In passing, we should get Kate Moss to change her name—if Rajini is bachelor, she cannot be Master of Social Service. No way.].
In contrast, what would Pratibha Patil do when faced with a head of state that wishes to do India harm? Would she put the fear of God in our enemy as befitting the commander of our armed forces? Or would she put in a discreet call to the madam and then smiling gently, ask:
Do you want a bit more “sugar” in your tea?
Paraphrasing Rajini from “Sivaji–the BOSS”: Not “coool.” Not “coool” at all.
[Rajani dialogues courtesy Wikipedia]