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All the President's men

It's early days yet, but the names of the next occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan have already begun doing the rounds. Here are a few.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 02:47 IST

APJ Abdul Kalam: There are rumours that the BJP wants him to stand. And certainly a non-controversial sitting President is always the easiest option. So far, however, there is no sign that Kalam wants a second term. And the parties have yet to express an official preference.

Bhairon Singh Shekhawat: Feels, quite reasonably, that he should have been the BJP's candidate for the top job the last time around. Instead, the party wanted PC Alexander and ended up with Kalam. This time, Shekhawat would have no difficulty in getting the support of his party. But there is no evidence that the Congress has any intention of backing him.

Karan Singh: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. This time too, Dr Karan Singh's name has come up and sections of the Congress are backing him. Three problems, though. One, he is getting on a bit. Two, AB Vajpayee will not let the BJP back him because Karan Singh nearly defeated him in Lucknow two elections ago. And three, he does not seem to be Sonia Gandhi’s preferred choice.

Somnath Chatterjee: A popular choice despite the BJP’s carping about his role as Speaker. The Left would be quite happy to see its own man at Rashtrapati Bhavan and, in any case, Somnath is out of the CPM’s inner circle. The Congress likes him and would want to oblige the Left. And any fair-minded person can see that he has the stature and intellect required for the job.

NR Narayana Murthy: The unofficial candidate of the CII and the news channels. Narayana Murthy would be an interesting, offbeat choice capturing the spirit of 21st century India. He is clearly not averse to taking the job. And who knows? In a stand off like the one we had last time, the unlikeliest names emerge as compromise choices.

Farooq Abdullah: Promised the job by the BJP the last time around and then betrayed. Would love to move but will probably have to restrict his ambition to becoming president of his local golf club.

Sushil Kumar Shinde: The dark horse. But a consensus seems to be emerging around his candidature. Watch this space.