SONIA Gandhi'svisceral opposition to the re-nomination of the current incumbent of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is inexplicable. Why is Sonia so negative about Abdul Kalam?
Is it because he supports Indian interests? Knowing the mind of Sonia Gandhi, on whom he depends for his job, Manmohan Singh has reportedly agreed to the US demand that India cap the Agni-III programme to a 5000-kilometre range. This would mean the end of this country'shopes of becoming a competitor to Europe in the satellite launch market. Given Sonia'spreferences, such an outcome may not be at all unpalatable to her, for anytime she has the luxury of getting back her EU passport, the way Alberto Fujumori switched from Peruvian to Japanese in a flash. Should she do so, the fact that she was responsible for the emasculation of India would go very much in her favour. Whether it is the clandestine sale of thorium under the guise of ?exports of sand? or the efforts at signing the nuclear deal, or the retreat from Siachen and Sir Creek, this government has reduced India to the stature of a diplomatic dwarf, in the process magnifying the role of Europe in South Asia. Even though he has almost never openly spoken his mind on such matters, it is known that President Kalam is deeply concerned about the direction of Indian policy, and the long-term impact of the Maino Doctrine (India as Dwarf) on the country'ssecurity. He would be troubled by the attempted destruction of the rocket and space programme under the cover of capping the range of the country'smissiles to a level that would render the billion-plus people of the land defenseless in the event of a first strike by a nuclear power other than Pakistan. Is this defence of Indian interests the reason why the UPA has been prevented from backing a second term in office for President Kalam?
Is it because he is honest? Poor Sonia is almost poor, judging by the returns she has filed with the Election Commission. However, barring Arecaparambil Kurian Antony and Manmohan Singh, none of the leaders of her party?herself included?are known for anything other than an ostentatious lifestyle. A visit to any of the rallies that are organised for Sonia Maino Gandhi to register the ?spontaneous? ecstasy of local citizens to her coming will show that each has cost a great deal of money. Unless a method has been discovered of plucking rupees from the air, the only way such cash could have been generated would be by methods not entirely honest. Almost every politician in office has, therefore, a vested interest in ensuring that suitcases keep rolling in. President Kalam is the odd person out in a gathering of politicians, because the man has been scrupulously honest for all his life. Even the visit of his family to New Delhi to attend his swearing-in was paid for out of his meagre savings. Now that he has been President of India, from now onwards his stay will be met out of the exchequer, otherwise all that he would have been able to afford would have been a room in Mumbai or two in Chennai. Indeed, he has stayed in a single room for almost all of his life, declining lavish quarters and the usual perquisites of high office. The President is therefore an unpleasant example to the UPA, which revels in a five-star lifestyle while talking about the aam aadmi. Is the fact that he is honest the reason why the UPA has decided to dump Abdul Kalam?
Is it because he is from Tamil Nadu? Muthuvel Karunanidhi was responsible in 1997 for preventing the first-ever Tamil Prime Minister of India. G.K. Moopanar would have made it to the gaddi but for opposition from the DMK boss. That the first family of Indian politics (Sonia, Predebon, Anushka, Nadia, Rahul and Priyanka) has been joined in an alliance by the second family (Muthuvel, Stalin, Azhagiri and Kannimozhi) is no secret. If there is a greater admirer of the daughter of Stefano Maino than Lalu Prasad Yadav, it is Muthuvel Karunanidhi, whose face reveals the extremes of joy that he experiences in the clearly delightful company of the UPA chief.
Did Muthuvel request Sonia not to give a second chance to Abdul Kalam? If so, he will have the ?distinction? of not only being instrumental in preventing a Tamilian from becoming Prime Minister, but President as well. Hopefully, the UPA partners will prevail upon Karunanidhi to abandon his aversion to Tamils holding high national office, so that any veto may get withdrawn.
While President Kalam has been significantly less assertive about the country'sbasic interests than Citizen Kalam, he has nevertheless been an outstanding Head of State, and there is no reason why he should be denied a second term, unless it be for the reasons mentioned above.
President Kalam is the odd person out in a gathering of politicians, because the man has been scrupulously honest for all his life. Even the visit of his family to New Delhi to attend his swearing-in was paid for out of his meagre savings.