Ranjona Banerji: Will Pranab Mukherjee be our next President?

18 Jun,2012

Ranjona Banerji

By Ranjona Banerji


Do we have a President of India at last in Pranab Mukherjee? The Union finance minister, perhaps inspired by incumbent Pratibha Patil’s wonderful lifestyle, wanted a similar retirement plan for himself. Lovely house and gardens, lots of fuss and protocol and nothing to do – perfect!


This is hardly surprising since Mukherjee is the most hard-working man in the Universe. Not only is he the finance minister, a bad enough job, he is also the go-to man for both the government and the party. If the prime minister’s not there, Mukherjee’s in charge. If some ally is misbehaving, off goes Mukherjee to sort it out. If anything in the government is going wrong, Mukherjee to the rescue. If Parliament needs to be taught a lesson, up pops Mukherjee. Since he is 900 years old and has been part of every Parliament as long as anyone can remember, no one can contradict him. Earlier, in the 1970s, no one could contradict him because he always had a pipe in his mouth, so no one could understand him. Now he has got rid off the pipe but comprehension is still a prerequisite to contradiction. He also has a look in Parliament and if he gives you one, you quail and sit down quietly. This puts an end to the Opposition usually.


In addition to this, he is head of some 8,000 Groups of Ministers and another 8,000 Empowered Groups of Ministers. (I really don’t know what these are but they sound important.) Effectively, this means the government will come to a standstill once Mukherjee moves to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Since we in a form of paralysis anyway, the government is hoping no one will notice.


The main thorn in Mukherjee side is his “sister” Mamata Banerjee, also known as “I am a simple man”. The “simple man” does not want Mukherjee in the top chair. Bengali parochialism has still not recovered. This is akin to Bengalis supporting Kolkata Knight Riders instead of Pune Warriors. Oh, right, they’ve done that anyway. The TV channels are wondering how the man who everyone (except them) knew would get the job, eventually got it in spite of all their best efforts. India demands an answer here.


The two comedy acts running on the sideline are PA Sangma and Arvind Kejriwal. The BJP is wondering whether or not to join this laughter challenge.


The only person laughing all the way to the Mughal Gardens is Pranab Mukherjee!


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