Shall we sell the President?

The sudden spurt in the number of Presidential prospects has kindled my gambling/gaming instincts. So no matter who the contestants in that shabby arena are, why not we, who foot the burgeoning bills of that plum post, roll the dice ourselves? Let me do it on all your behalf.

I declare in advance that I am not in the race; I have better things to do. I also have a marked dislike for Delhi, a haunted city that teems with eerie tombs besides reeking of political intrigue in every square foot. Of course, my friendly enemies here, keen to be rid of my presence, have argued that being President actually means being away from Delhi and even India most of the time. But who will I travel around with? It would take generations for me to build a family that fits into the standard Presidential size. Again, I hear that already about 30 trucks carrying the ‘belongings’ of present Prez PP has already left R Bhavan. For the record, fewer of trucks entered it five years back! So, bereft of basic furniture and probably even curtains and footmats and with only plain walls and floor for company, the palace is likely to be even more ghostly than the rest of Delhi. The prospect of swearing in all those politicos as ministers, most whom you would rather swear at, is not pleasing either. A hung Parli in May 2014 could disrupt my Presidential vacation too. So, thanks, but sorry. I rule myself out.

All the same, this disclosure is deemed necessary because many politicos who pass off as proposers might secretly nurture a passion for the post themselves. So why not ease their predicament with nary a scar on their egos? Let’s do the honours with the warning that the order is not one of preference but wholly random. We will leave out the CMs, barring the one who is eighty five-plus and, therefore, young enough to be President: Prakash Singh Badal of Punjab. With a son ready to take over the mantle, Badal is ideally suited for a retired life, that is, if he can manage the hectic holiday schedule. I wonder why Mulayam’s name has not cropped up either. Having shifted the burden of ruining, pardon, running UP, on to his son and making the D-in-law an MP, is it not time for M to think of his own future? Can his busy family give him as much care as the cosy confines of the RBhavan? Also, all those CBI cases can always be made to melt in the UPA coalition pot if only he winks at Rahul!

Or maybe Mulayam is angling for the PM job, come 2014. In fact, I am beginning to think if the present Presidential race is actually a surrogate race for the real race to Race Course Road. Take, for instance, Manmohan turning out as a candidate. That would vacate PM space. Likewise, Pranab Mukherjee. PMda too is a prospective PM-contender against Rahul as he was with Rajiv himself. Really, making Presidents of potential PMs somehow suits Sonia. So just as Pranab and now MSingh, have been ‘planted’ in the race should not the BJP too project Advani so that Modi or whoever does not have to vie with seniority? After all, has not RBhavan largely been a depository for fossilised political baggage?

But then why not Signora Sonia herself? After all, this genetically slavish country has ceded more power to the imported Cong president than to the all-important Constitutional president! So much so that she ‘appoints’ him/her. A foreigner in the Presidential palace would be a sterling recap of those viceregal colonial times and a true measure of our ‘hospitable, liberal’ servitude. The real first family of independent India, whose sweep covers Italy to Swiss to Sweden, however, never had a First Citizen from their fold, though most First Citizens were in their hold. From Sonia’s point of view the idyllic RBhavan settings would be ideal for nurturing her saintly instincts and honing her renunciation skills. Who knows who she will have to sacrifice next for Rahul’s sake? Incidentally, we would have quietly moved to a Presidential form with an all powerful Prez so that the ignominous rubber stamp taboo also gets erased from the post. It looks it’s time for her to consult her inner voice again.

You can say with as much certainty as a DNA imprint that ND Tiwari would make for a famous Prez. A virile old man and a long lost son would be just what the doctor, rather, director ordered for this serial/cinema crazy country. And by some strange association of thought our own Dr K comes to mind. And what’s wrong with that? The Presidential premises has enough space for any number of families and some kind of revolving ‘protocol’ adjustments can be effected to ensure ‘domestic balance’. On second thoughts, K is a doubtful starter for he would never give up DMK leadership. Maybe, Azhagiri who must now be familiar with Delhi terrain can check out if RBhavan and the lands around it are up for grabs.

But the popularity charts in TN point to the real man of the moment, the current toast of the DMK: A.Raja. He would truly be a people’s President: All of India knows him. His appeal straddles a wide spectrum. Some cost to the exchequer may arise in order to build a tunnel between Tihar and RBhavan. But that’s nothing compared to the bigger holes he has blown before!

Did I say Raja? Aah, the name has set off a brainwave. Shall we auction the Prez post, First Come, First Served?

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Jawahar T R