Old memories must have been passing through his mind when he rose to present this year’s budget in the parliament. The man on his left as he spoke was the Governor of the RBI when he last presented the budget. Now he is the Prime Minister.
Pranab Mukherjee was perhaps setting a record of sorts being the only person in the history of India to hold the high-profile finance portfolio for a second time after a gap of quarter of a century. History will remember that but Pranab Mukherjee is a person of different league.
He is a man of learning, his awesome talent of deep understanding of a wide gamut of issues overshadowing the small stocky built of his.
In the last government, he started off as defense minister, shifting later to external affairs, and when the PM took ill in January this year, held both external affairs and finance portfolios simultaneously and effortlessly…all that in addition to being the head of the largest number of ministerial groups as well as trouble-shooting political crises whenever need arose.
There were and are tall persons in Indian politics of varying caliber, but Pranab Mukherjee’s caliber is the rarest of the rare even as he stands the tallest among his contemporaries.
The reason I think why he cannot hope to become the PM is not the dearth of talent – he has too much of that – but the fact that he has a mind of his own. And who knows better than him that nurturing ‘own mind’ is never a good quality in Indian politics.
Let me turn a little ‘parochial’ at this juncture. I am proud of him because like me Pranab Mukherjee is a Bengali, and I have no hesitation to say that he is yet another addition to the long list of luminaries from Bengal that perhaps no other state in India can (ever) boast of.