Have the Congress's dual or triple power centres fallen apart? The more the beleaguered UPA II government is inching closer towards the elections and hence trying to create magic across the country hoping that it will enable it to somehow return for the third consecutive term, the more it is losing face.
Direct cash transfer scheme, food security bill, ordinance to shield convicted politicians and then taking a U-turn, formation of Telangana, call it whatever you feel, but that much desired magic is yet to be created.
Could Pranab have served as a better PM?
The critical juncture in which the Congress has found itself could raise again the question that was not answered nine years ago when Sonia Gandhi declined to become the prime minister.
Could Pranab Mukhrjee have been made the prime minister then instead of Manmohan Singh? The way the former has been asserting his voice as the president of the country, had it been better if he was made the prime minister, the executive head?
Pranab's huge experience was ignored
Mukherjee's political experience is more than that of the two Gandhis and Singh put together. The 78-year-old was in active politics for six decades before becoming the president of the country in July last year. Hadn't been it wise for Sonia Gandhi to use the experience of this man to lead her UPA government, at least in the second term?
Mukherjee had won his first Lok Sabha contest in 2004, unlike Singh who has always remained ‘elite' parliamentarian from the Rajya Sabha, and backed it up with another win in 2009. He was one of those rare old-timers in the Congress who had an influence over the bureaucracy unlike most of the ministers today, who excessively depend on the bureaucracy for the day-to-day functioning. True, Mukherjee was not a mass leader like many others in the country but his victory as a member of the Lok Sabha coupled with his huge experience could make him a fitter prime ministerial candidate than Singh.
Shadow of the past stopped Pranab again?
Perhaps the Gandhis failed to come out of the shadow of the past. In 1984 after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Mukherjee as the then Number Two in the Cabinet, could have become the successor but the dynastic politics didn't allow that to happen.
Indira's son Rajiv Gandhi, who was just a general secretary of the Congress, was invited to become the prime minister by the then President Gyani Zail Singh.
Mukherjee faded into oblivion after the young leader took over as the prime minister but was brought back after the Gandhi in power faced a big trouble in the name of Bofors.
Mukherjee was one of those leaders who played an important role to bring back the Gandhis to the leadership of the party after it faced a big crisis after the days of Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesari. Yet, in 2004 while responding to the inner call, the name of Mukherjee as the PM did not arise for Rajiv's widow, Sonia Gandhi.
Pranab was the most experienced man in the Cong but yet ignored.
Manmohan served Sonia's conscience but not the nation
May be Mukherjee's sea of experience and a thinking mind ruined his chances, quite paradoxically, and Manmohan Singh looked a better candidate for he could be easily won over.
But the convenience of Sonia Gandhi didn't prove beneficial for the nation in the long run. The tragic fall of Singh, particularly in the last one year when ‘trouble-shooter' Mukherjee was no more there in the UPA II, shows how much directionless and leaderless the Congress-led regime has turned out into.
But Mukherjee's leadership skills have not gone wasted. He is showing even as the nominal head that voices always have an impact.
What Pranab speaks as President, MMS can't as PM?
What Sonia's candidate Manmohan Singh failed to do as the prime minister, Pranab Mukherjee, the candidate she overlooked, has been doing as the president, even if that has led to a reassessment of the role of the titular head.
Pranab showed the way to Rahul and MMS
President Mukherjee showed how things are done, both at institutional and leadership levels. He raised objection to the controversial ordinance in his presidential capacity and not through a superman-like act at some press conference.
A section of the media and the supporters of the Congress were extremely elated over Rahul Gandhi's act as a ‘saviour' of the democracy but surprisingly, the constitutional spirit with which the president acted as the real ‘saviour' didn't get its due recognition.
Again in Belgium, the president's strong words on terrorism are something Prime Minister Singh can learn. Strong message doesn't mean just reading from a script in a high pitch. It means to speak with a conviction. The prime minister looks completely out of sync with what's happening all around, be it violations at the border or crime against women (read Thik Hain).
Mukherjee didn't confine himself to a limited political role but asserted himself. This is how a leadership is expected to act, with conviction.
Congress's balance of power is lost
The balance of power in the Congress was spoilt the day Mukherjee made an exit. The vacuum that prevails in the party under the weakened Gandhis will be difficult to fill up. Sonia Gandhi perhaps regret the way she authored the story.