Calcutta: Unlike the previous electoral battles, Leander Paes is following the ongoing general election with “much more interest.”
“Because I find different strategies unfolding and I don’t think any one candidate is really stealing the show. Some, in fact, are keeping a pretty low profile. Mr LK Advani, for example...
“There’s Mr (Narendra) Modi with his vision, his form of idealism... There’s the Aam Aadmi Party, which has made corruption an issue... There’s Mr Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka (Gandhi Vadra), who is a remarkable lookalike of her paternal grandmother, the late Indira Gandhi...
“It’s such an interesting mix and I do see interesting times ahead of us,” Leander told The Telegraph late on Friday, after landing in New Delhi.
Winner of 14 Grand Slams, Leander’s in the capital to receive the Padma Bhushan, which will be conferred on Saturday. He’d received the Padma Shri in 2001.
Getting back to the general election, specifically Priyanka, who has been taking on Modi, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, almost daily, Leander said: “Priyanka’s not a candidate herself, but she’s definitely a political entity coming from a political family...
“I know little of politics, but Priyanka (who has taken charge of the Congress’s campaign in Rae Bareli and Amethi) seems to have the passion to lead the country. If Priyanka’s interested, I think she’d make a fantastic Prime Minister. There’s too much of her paternal grandmother in her.”
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
Leander’s met Priyanka, but “very briefly.”
Asked if he had a favourite politician, Leander laughed. “You won’t find me picking one!”
[This Reporter was, by the way, present when Leander and Mamata Banerjee gifted each other “Christmas” cakes in December 2010.]
Leander, however, did speak on what he’d like the next Prime Minister to do.
“India’s rich in human resource and has a strong economy. I’d like the Prime Minister to make full use of our human resource and also look to integrating the many gifted Indians who’ve gone overseas for one reason or the other...
“Our Prime Minister must look at the issues at home, but should have a global perspective as well. You could say: Think Indian, be global. In this age, you need to be that.”
Leander is high on hope and is scheduled to be in Mumbai (his base in India) on May 16, when the general election’s verdict would be known.