know your neighbour

Secret Dairy of an Indian President

Posted by chimeki on July 30, 2012

While all the political maneuverings are done downhill, I Pranab Mukherjee, the most overrated player is left alone in the 350-room abode to watch them on television. Here, in a tightly guarded room I sit on a silver chair to write dairy. The protocol, they say, I must follow until I vacate the Bhavan.

I don’t want to do this. It is something I have been able to avoid all my life in public service. Had I maintained a dairy would I have climbed the Raisina Hill? I am said to be a Brahmin but I have always followed the Buddhist principle of being an observer. I never participant in process but narrate them to others. And maybe that is why I am called a crisis manager. My trick to management is to speak truth to friends and foes alike. I always frankly told our coalition partners what they could sincerely expect as junior partners. My offers included: no CBI inquiry of any kind as long as they remain in coalition and extra fund from center for state’s (mis)management. These are but two of many in offer.

My second principle is to keep silence. Unlike others in our party who either seldom speak or too much I speak when I am asked to. I learnt this from our great leader Rajeev Gandhi. He threw me out of the working committee for speaking when it was best to remain silent. Let me recall the story. Immediately after Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated and he and I were flying back to Delhi from Calcutta, to test my loyalty, he asked me who should replace her. I innocently suggested that she should be replaced by the senior most member of the party’s working committee. While uttering these words I didn’t realize that I was lobbying for myself. He didn’t like the answer and as soon as we reached Delhi I was replaced even before Mrs Gandhi. It took me seven years to get back to where I was on that inauspicious day.

Let’s not dig into past. I want to talk present. If you carefully look at the coverage of this year’s presidential election you will find that unlike in the past my election to the highest post was covered pompously. The newspersons talked about the importance of this office and how I might have felt after getting elected? They spoke about the greatest honor I was getting for serving this great land for these many years. But with my political acumen I could see that they were not celebrating my ‘victory’ but failure. Yes, I failed miserably. Should I act naïve to consider being president as the greatest honor one can achieve? For many years I had dreamed of becoming the prime minister of the country.

A man of my repute who had opportunities to attend the meetings presided by Late Mrs Indira Gandhi can hardly feel proud on becoming president. I still had memory of the time when Mrs Gandhi decided to impose Internal Emergency. While many of us were asked for suggestions she never, for a second, thought of then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. When one of the ministers reminded her if he would ratify the decision she just smiled. She didn’t even give a second thought when she sent the ordinance for approval. This is how a president is treated in our polity. We crack jokes on presidents. In our working committee meetings we often scare colleagues of proposing them for presidentship (of India of course) else they fall in line. Recently Mr Manmohan Singh tried to take on Mrs Sonia Gandhi and was shocked to hear in the evening news one of our party leaders wishing to see him on the ‘highest post’! He immediately rang her and apologized.

So when I saw media coverage of my swearing in I immediately understood they were celebrating my defeat and not victory. Our country’s media was actually celebrating my retirement from the politics. For a year or so I had been hitting corporate where it hurts the most. This I did deliberately. I knew Mrs Gandhi was all set to give me farewell after this term. I decided to make the corporate upset before that for I knew the pain in their ass is pain in our government’s ass. The more they are upset the more the chance to get big. I succeeded. The party decided to gracefully remove me from the finance ministry.

All said, I must confess I failed to achieve my goal in life. Today in the morning when I was taking guard of honor I heard one former colleague of mine cracking joke. He said, “a person who should often speak is mute. A person who could speak was muted today”. I can’t agree more. Frankly speaking I didn’t have a new responsibility today but retired from public life. I believe I am paying for taking the corporate world and its linchpins head-on. I did not come here an achiever but a loner. I am Napoleon on Saint Helena.



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