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Jul 12, 2012, 08.23 AM IST
Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee has come a long way from his village Mirali in West Bengal to the seat of power in New Delhi. The ex-finance minister's acceptability to parties cutting across the political spectrum can be attributed to his greatest strength which lies in consensus-building.
"We have to depend on the others. You cannot expect me that I will have the same approach, I shall have to accommodate them, I shall have to carry them with us..." Pranab had once said with regard to the coalition allies.
His political mentor was none other than Indira Gandhi. He entered the Rajya Sabha as a West Bengal Congress MP in 1969, joining Indira's Cabinet as a Deputy Minister in 1973. He maintains that Indira Gandhi remains his inspiration.
When it comes to economy and foreign policy, he is a Centrist, not as gung ho on market economics as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Never a mass politician, he won his first election only in 2004.
Says senior journalist Sunanda K Datta Ray, "He is the best PM India never had. He is a cerebral politician."
A workaholic, he is known to work late into the night. He has many friends in the BJP, but is known to be a committed believer in secularism.
Senior journalist Diptosh Majumdar says, "Pranab Mukherjee is a politician who is rooted in Hindu tradition but he remains a complete secularist. He is a person who is acceptable to the Left, to the Centre, and to the Right."
Pranab is said to have a phenomenal political memory, and is an expert constitutionalist.
For Congressmen, he was the link between the party and the government.
Says Yogendra Yadav, "Pranab Mukherjee's indispensability is in essence a mark of decline of politics. In politics in our country today and UPA-II is a perfect exam of that... it's a government where there are very few connections between governance and politics, politics and party organisation, government and Oppposition. Pranab Mukherjee happened to be one of those few persons who is from that old school of thought where politics had primacy."
Always approachable, known to have frequent flashes of temper, the UPA's Presidential nominee could also as easily break out into a smile.
The man entering Rashtrapati Bhavan is a man of the state and a man of government. It seems the Constitution of India may just have found an able guardian.
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