|(Top) Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa and P.A. Sangma and (above) Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi. (PTI pictures)
Shillong, July 21: If behind every successful man there is a woman, the two presidential candidates of the Indian republic — UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee and BJP-backed Independent candidate Purno Agitok Sangma pose a curious case, as they both stand at the favourable end of the proverb.
While Mukherjee has the blessings of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa was the first to officially endorse Sangma’s candidature.
And tomorrow, from among the two candidates who had the backing of two powerful women, India’s new first citizen would be announced in New Delhi — President Pranab Mukherjee or President Purno Agitok Sangma.
The votes to elect President Pratibha Patil’s successor were cast on Thursday across the country. The counting will be held tomorrow in the national capital. As of now, the odds are heavily stacked against Sangma — the man who has never lost any election from 1977 till 2008. And if he finally loses to Mukherjee, it would be for the first time in 35 years that Sangma would be left without any “current” designation.
In these three-and-a-half decades, Sangma had either been known as a Lok Sabha MP, or a Union minister, or a chief minister, or an Opposition leader, or a legislator.
Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.
A day of reckoning, and a day which would decide Sangma’s new political ventures. Maybe for a man who has never lost any election, it would be difficult to decide the next course of action. But politics has always been the art of the possible.
Ever since he threw his hat into the presidential ring, Sangma has been clinging on to the “conscience vote”, “miracle” and “hope” rhetoric. Whether any of these would place the Garo hills strongman on the President’s seat would be known tomorrow.
“We are hoping for the best,” Sangma’s younger son Conrad told The Telegraph on his way to New Delhi to be with his father.
Along with Conrad, his elder brother James and a few others will be joining the senior Sangma — either to celebrate or to decide the future course.
Should Sangma lose, “a lot of his friends and well-wishers have urged him to play a larger role at the Centre,” Conrad said, implying that his father may not return to state politics.
The senior Sangma had resigned as a member from the Meghalaya Assembly last month after he announced his presidential ambitions. He had represented Tura Assembly constituency from March 2008.
On whether the BJP was likely to give a Rajya Sabha seat to his father, Conrad said, “I do not know anything about that.”
Asked about the current rumblings between the Sharad Pawar-led NCP and the Congress within the UPA coalition would affect the Meghalaya unit of NCP, Conrad said, “We will remain intact, but on Monday there will be a crucial meeting of the NCP leadership in New Delhi.”
Win or lose, Sangma had indubitably brought in an element of excitement into the 2012 presidential poll which even made former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav fumble during Thursday’s poll, rendering his vote “invalid”. Was the fumble a good omen for Sangma? Can miracles happen even when the numbers are not in his favour? Will the audacity of hope see him through? Would Sangma be able to emulate President V.V. Giri? Will Sonia’s blessings prove stronger than Jayalalithaa’s?
For the answers to these questions, one must wait till tomorrow.