Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Greatest Indian

CNN-IBN had conducted a poll on the Greatest Indian after Mohandas Gandhi. B. R. Ambedkar won the poll. The 28-member jury had voted Jawaharlal Nehru. The jury had a list of 100 persons. They reduced it to 50 persons. The people voted on the 50 persons the list was further reduced to 10 persons. After voting by people B. R. Ambedkar emerged the winner. The other eight finalists were Vallabhbhai Patel, J. R. D. Tata, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Sachin Tendulkar, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Lata Mangeshkar.

History TV18 and Outlook were CNN-IBN’s partners. I do not know why there were 28 members in the jury. Perhaps it was one member for each state.

Vallabhbhai Patel was deputy prime minister, home minister, and minister of information & broadcasting. He is known for amalgamation of princely states. J. R. D. Tata was an industrialist. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is a scientist, known as missile man, and was president of India. Mother Teresa did charitable deeds for the poorest of the poor. She won Nobel Prize for Peace. Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee were prime ministers. Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketer. Lata Mangeshkar is a singer.

On 14 August 2012 CNN-IBN declared the result of its poll. On 16 August 2012 it held a discussion. The question: Was Ambedkar greater than Nehru? There was recorded interview with Shashi Tharoor. Kancha Ilaiah, Sudheendra Kulkarni, and Mridula Mukherjee took part in discussion. The answer as per votes by viewers was 59% yes, 41% no.

There was no need to mention the jury had voted Nehru as the greatest Indian. It seems Ambedkar’s victory was hard to digest for the jury and Congress members. It was even hard for Sudheendra Kulkarni who is associated with BJP. He said B. R. Ambedkar was opposed to Congress and freedom struggle. He joined viceroy’s council during Quit India movement. He was not the architect of the constitution. B. R. Ambedkar was the chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution. Nehru and Patel headed many committees of the constituent assembly.

It is not proper to put people of different fields, who lived at different times, together and ask who is the greatest of them. Acting, charitable work, industry, science, singing, sport, politics, and literature are different fields. Even in the same field there are differences. Hockey is different from cricket. A batsman is different from bowler. A spin bowler is different from a fast bowler. An off spinner is different from a leg spinner. In football, a goalkeeper is different from a forward. One is expected to stop goals; another is expected to score goals.

Some years back some people made lot of money by holding a poll on Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Voting was by SMS and each SMS cost 10 rupees. A person can vote any number of times. Many Indians voted for Taj Mahal. CNN-IBN did not go for SMS poll. Voting was by missed calls.

Next year CNN-IBN can have a poll on the Greatest Indian after Jawaharlal Nehru. B. R. Ambedkar died in 1956. Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964.

President Pranab

Pranab Mukherjee is the president of India. He could not become prime minister, even caretaker prime minister, home minister and missed becoming president in 2007. There was suspense about his candidature. When during Congress Working Committee meeting he proposed authorising Congress president to nominate candidates for president and vice president he seemed out of equation. Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav said they did not want him or Hamid Ansari and proposed A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee. It seemed all over for Pranab Mukherjee but Mulayam Singh Yadav turned around and supported him. JD(U) and Shiv Sena supported Pranab Mukherjee. There was split in Left Front. CPI(M) supported him. CPI abstained. At the end Mamata Banerjee also supported him.

Purno Albert Sangma who lost the election to Pranab Mukherjee is set to challenge his election in court. UPA had granted financial packages to UP and Bihar. There is controversy about the post held by Pranab Mukherjee in Indian Statistical Institute and his two signatures. IAC has begun a campaign for SIT to investigate 15 ministers. Pranab Mukherjee was one of them. Later they covered his picture.

Abhijeet Mukherjee, son of Pranab Mukherjee and an MLA, wants to contest from Jangipur constituency which Pranab Mukherjee represented in Lok Sabha. Next Abhijeet Mukherjee may ask to be made finance minister because Pranab Mukherjee was finance minister and demand to succeed Pranab Mukherjee as president.

Pranab Mukherjee did not want to remain No. 2 in cabinet for long. He could not become No. 1 in cabinet. Becoming president was a consolation prize.

During his last days as finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was unpopular with corporates. Many blamed him for various wrongs. Some said he ran finance ministry as his own and did not allow prime minister to interfere. However not much has changed after Pranab Mukherjee ceased to be finance minister.

Pranab versus Purno

Pranab Mukherjee and Purno Albert Sangma are the two candidates for president of India. When UPA announced Pranab as its candidate some journalists said he will get 82% of votes, Purno will get 6%. NDA and Left Front had not decided on candidates, CPI had said it will oppose Congress candidate, many other parties had not declared their support to any candidate. The journalists added NDA and Left Front votes to Pranab. Instead of being objective they behaved like Pranab’s cheerleaders.

TMC wanted A. P. J. Abdul Kalam to contest. JD(U) was in favour of Pranab. When NDA’s meeting ended inclusive Kalam did not want to contest. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke in favour of Kalam but that was too late. Ram Jethmalani said if BJP did not put up a candidate he will contest.

There was talk that Purno will be offered the post of high commissioner to Mauritius and he will not contest. That infuriated Purno. NCP did not want Purno to contest. Purno quit NCP. Along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar he was a founder of NCP.

On 21/6/2012 BJP and SAD decided to support Purno. JD(U) and Shiv Sena were on Pranab’s side.

There was no Breaking News when many meetings happened. After Mamata and Mulayam rejected the names of Pranab and Hamid Ansari and suggested the names of Manmohan Singh, Abdul Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee, Mulayam met Sonia Gandhi. There was no Breaking News. Next day Mulayam met A. K. Antony and Ahmed Patel. There was no Breaking News. After that Mulayam met Sonia Gandhi. There was no Breaking News. When Pranab came to Bombay he met Bal Thackeray. There was no Breaking News. It is not good when TV channels suppress news.

In a democracy elections should be contested. Two candidates are ideal. More candidates means someone gets elected with less than half the votes. Something is wrong when there is no contest and someone is declared elected unopposed. Consensus is not democracy.

Pranab as minister has held various portfolios except that of home and did not become prime minister. Purno was labour minister and speaker of Lok Sabha.

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