New Delhi: Internationally recognized as the `Missile Man` of India, former President APJ Abdul Kalam is back in news as speculation about the country’s future President intensifies with every passing day.
Kalam`s name has started doing the rounds ever since Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and Trinamool president Mamta Bannerjee jointly proposed his name for presidency along with other two candidates yesterday.
Adding a new twist to the race for Raisina, both Mulayam and Mamata also proposed the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for the country’s top job.
The two leaders also virtually rejected the two Congress candidates, Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari for the presidency. Both leaders, while denying that the names were in any order of priority, made an appeal to all political parties to support one of them.
If political analysts are to be believed, Kalam is the preferred choice of the UPA allies, which is evident from the fact that both Mamata and Mulayam reportedly spoke to him before proposing his name.
The main opposition BJP has already made known its support for Kalam’s candidature for the next president.
For Congress, both Somnath and Kalam are red herrings, and the ruling party may not seriously considered the candidature of Ansari - who did not get the support of the SP, which had said it wanted a political nominee, preferably a Muslim.
SP chief had earlier said that his party would prefer a non-bureaucrat to be elected to the highest post apparently giving a major blow to Hamid Ansari’s prospects for the job.
However with the SP and the Trinamool having decisive numbers, it will be difficult for the UPA to pushing ahead with its choice for president without them. The other allies, NCP and DMK, had earlier said they would go with whoever the Congress chooses. But with no one name, the confusion still prevails.
In such a scenario, Kalam has a brighter chance of becoming President for a second term.
But despite support from the BJP, SP and the TMC, it is not going to be an easy ride for Kalam to enter the Rashtrapati Bhawan once again. Though BJP and NDA may back Kalam but with but Mamata and Mulayam making it clear that former president be seen as their independent candidate and not of the NDA, the Congress is unlikely to agree to this.
So far, there hasn`t been any official reaction from the Congress to the names proposed by Mamata and Mulayam.
However, sources in the Congress say that Kalam cannot be their first choice and that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s name cannot be ruled out yet.
It was also reported that the Prime Minister`s Office has rejected the option of the Prime Minister being the Presidential candidate.
The Congress has reasons to worry after Mamata and Mulayam`s twist. If UPA`s candidate loses the Presidential elections, the government will fall and snap elections would be called. Mamata and Mulayam seem to have opened the possibility of a federal front being formed of the state leaders.
Sonia Gandhi`s credibility is on test to ensure the nomination of a preferred Congress candidate. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s credibility has also been damaged by allies suggesting he could be made the President instead of staying on as the Prime Minister
Kalam served as the President between 2002 and 2007. In the 2007 Presidential Elections, Kalam`s name was proposed by smaller parties to enter the race but he backed out at the last minute in the absence of a consensus.