A veteran of many political victories over a career spanning six decades, senior Congress leader ND Tiwari would surely like to end his distinguished innings with a cherry on the cake - i.e. reaching the office of the President of India.
With External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee
expressing his unwillingness for the post and reports doing the rounds that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is averse to backing Sushil Kumar Shinde, the former Uttarakhand chief minister's name has cropped up as a likely candidate from the Congress camp.
The 'social engineering' experiment undertaken by Mayawati in the recent UP assembly elections has also given credence to the possibility that the Dalit 'behenji' would not hesitate in supporting a Brahmin for the top post.
Congress leaders in Dehradun believe that with an eye on the 2009 general elections, the BSP leader would want to support Tiwari or any other suitable Brahmin candidate from UP to increase her popularity among the upper caste voters.
Considering Mayawati's decisive role in election of the next President, Tiwari's telephone chat with the new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister soon after her swearing in is the talk of political circles in Dehradun these days.
Tiwari, however, maintains that he had merely called Mayawati to congratulate on her 'experiment' and unexpected poll victory and that there was no discussion on the presidential polls.
In an interview with a television channel, the senior Congress leader who is busy these days writing his memoirs at his new residence located inside the scenic Forest Research Institute campus denied that he was lobbying for the top post.
"There has never been a tradition of lobbying or campaigning for the President's post in our country and even I am not doing any such thing. Generally parties arrive at a consensus on the candidate," said Tiwari.
Adding that the Left Front has not got in touch with him on the issue, he stated that 'they' are his old friends. Tiwari expressed his desire to continue serving the people and would abide by any decision taken by the Congress high command.
While it remains to be seen, who the Congress leadership would back for the post, some within the Congress feel that despite his track record and non-controversial image, Tiwari doesn't stand a strong chance due to his perceived closeness with anti-Sonia factions within the party.