Pranabda’s Date With Destiny
I begin this piece with my perception of Pranabda flowing—from Madhuda Surendra Mohan Ghosh, the political mentor of Indira Gandhi, whom Sri Aurobindo often referred to as his instrument in politics—and intelligentsia of India International Centre in particular and the country in general. Ajoy Mukherji whenever he was in Delhi, he would make it a point to see SM Ghosh at his residence in 21 Janpath. I was introduced to Pranabda by Dada SM Ghosh and learnt that his father had the distinction of working with him when he was the President of Bengal Pradesh Congress in late thirties. Dada told me that Pranab Mukherjee has inherited politics from his genes and he had understood Sri Aurobindo’s message and India’s civilizational power that flows from her upward spirit of unbroken continuity, harmony of various religious traditions, capacity of assimilation and absorption, universality of spirit, pluralism and tolerance, dignity and divinity of the individual. He even mentioned this fact to Indira Gandhi in my presence and often said that he will play a crucial role in shaping the destiny of the country from ethical and spiritual perspectives.
When I look backwards and forwards in time and space, I am fascinated by the fact that most of our Presidents, such as, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan, Dr Zakir Hussain, Dr R Venkataraman, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma were elected to the office on the strength of their outstanding contributions to the national developmental process. Pranabda is all set to join their ranks. “But we also elected Presidents for reasons that were far removed from the intrinsic merits.” They were elected on the basis of sheer political compulsions and expediency on account of the gender, religion, and regional configurations.
It is our expectation that Pranabda will recover the lost wisdom and arrest the devaluation of this office and provide it dignity by creating new conventions for a big leap forward of the country. I marvel at his potentials and at a time when the country is passing through complex and cumulative crisis: the crisis of self-inflicted wounds. The nexus of politicians-bureaucrats and industrialists has been exposed by RTI and judicial activism. The concept of economic reforms has made politics dysfunctional. Liberalisation of economy has in fact directly or indirectly contributed to the liberalisation of our value¬system, the collapse of dharma. A nation that is founded on the glowing motto of Satyameva Jayate is sinking in the ocean of corruption. The time is ripe for a new movement of the Second Cultural Renaissance for the sheer survival of India i.e. Bharat with a luminous cultural legacy.
Sharing the perceptions of Raja Rammohun Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo and a galaxy of other outstanding minds from Bengal including Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Pranabda can trigger the minds of youth imbued with idealism, creative writers, artists, scientists, social and political activists, including organisations like Ramakrishna Mission, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville Foundation, Rumi Foundation, Swami Ram Tirath Ashram, Gandhi Ashrams and other spiritual organisations for the Second Cultural Renaissance to arrest the negative forces of callousness and corruption and generate a climate of compassion, love and understanding and the spirit of self-sacrifice. Let our glowing motto of Satyameva Jayate should be translated into action by our politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists. I hope Pranabda will not belie us.
June 15, the Friday marks the beginning of his journey to Raisina Hill when the perennial number two will move on to citizen number one. It was indeed his date with destiny. The media reported that the man who could have been Prime Minister is now the President. Pranabda, Union Finance Minister, Chief trouble-shooter, master strategist and quintessential Congressman, shed the perpetual man in-waiting label on June 15, as Sonia Gandhi announced his candidature for the President.
Pranabda’s career in the public life spanning almost half a century provides a promising thrust, the ever reliable personality in the Congress party has headed the most crucial Ministries—Defence, External Affairs, Commerce and Finance—and had acquired the potential of resolving the conflicts within and outside through the theory of conflicts resolutions. It is fascinating to note that during the two tenures of the UP A government, he has emerged as a chief trouble-shooter, for Manmohan Singh’s government. He has headed close to 25 GoMs and E-GoMs.
Pranabda has remained throughout in the vortex of power as Member of Rajya Sabha. It is only in 2004 Lok Sabha elections that he was elected from Jangipur in Murshidabad. The only position that eluded him was of the Prime Minister. He became the Leader of the Lok Sabha in 2004 that he held till June 25, the day he resigned from the Finance Ministry and the Congress Party. The officers of the Ministry of Finance hosted him a farewell dinner in the Private Dinning Hall. I too was invited by a friend but I preferred to wish him a good luck at the reception counter. As usual, he was jubilant and reciprocated my greetings warmly and affectionately. I told him that today the dream of Madhuda has come to fruition. He smiled and then he met GVG Krishnamurthy and straightaway went to the Dinning Hall.
LK Advani, while speaking on the motion of thanks on President’s address on February 17, 2009, stated in the Parliament that “mein kabhi kabhi sochta hun Pranabda nahi hote to UPA sarkar kya karti” (Sometime I think had Pranabda not been there what would happen to the government). Whenever there is a crisis, he is there. 25 years ago, he presented the budget and did so again yesterday as it was a crisis situation. Ever since I was introduced to Pranab Mukherji I have always appreciated his ability, his strength and his capability to shoulder responsibility. Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said that “many leaders in government are smug and arrogant but you (Pranabda) can charm even your critics (October 18, 2011 in Parliament)”. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that whenever I approached Pranabda in relation to any Bengal project, he provided help. Mulayam Singh Yadav said that Pranabda is experienced, honest and intelligent and capable person. We support him for his journey to Raisina Hill. Lalu Prasad Yadav said that we are happy with the presidential candidate who is now pride of Bengal. Mayawati said that our party has at every level considered Pranab Mukherjee, a serious and deserving candidate. Brinda Karat said that we congratulate Pranab Mukheree.
Nearly every sensitive person and Pranabda is no exception, has hunch where meaning lies. What Mahatma Gandhi said about Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru could be aptly applied to Pranabda with slight modification. Whether one admits it or not, nobody can excel him in the love of the country. He is pure as crystal, he is truthful beyond suspicion. He is a practical statesman tampering his ideas to suit his surroundings. But for himself, he is an idealist who would ever to strive to live up to his ideals. Pranabda is a fearless, benevolent and compassionate and has a (Dard) for the dalits, deprived and poor people belonging to the minority community. Here is an insight from Shakespeare that sharply and coherently brings out Pranabda’s multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and multi-layered personality:
And What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculties!
In action, how like an angel!
In apprehension, how like a God!
By Kishore Gandhi
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