London: As members of the university of Cambridge`s senate on Friday queued in their traditional long black gowns to vote for the next chancellor of the 802-year- old institution, many remembered that Jawaharlal Nehru almost became its chancellor in 1950.
There is much interest in the `historic` election since this is the first time a proper election is being held to the constitutional head of the university since 1847, when Prince Albert was elected.
Since then, there was no occasion to hold a proper election, with dons deciding the incumbent among themselves.
So far, all the chancellors since the post was created in 1246 were aristocrats, bishops, generals or princes; but no longer.
The candidates for the 108th chancellorship now are a billionaire Lord and former politician (Lord Sainsbury, the official candidate), a Shakespearean actor (Brian Blessed), a human rights lawyer (Michael Mansfield) and an Indian-origin grocer (Abdul Arain).
Voting for the post is being held today and tomorrow, with the result expected on Sunday.
The Senate membership is estimated to be over 150,000. University sources said that some members had come from Hong Kong and US to vote.
Senior university figures recalled that in 1950, several university dons proposed Nehru`s name as a candidate for the chancellorship when the incumbent, Jan Smuts, died.
The official candidate then was Lord Tedder, while Nehru was nominated by his supporters without giving him an opportunity to withdraw.