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President poll: What makes Kalam the top choice?

Jun 15, 2012 08:29 AM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: Even as sources indicated differences between Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav, it appears that former President APJ Abdul Kalam remains the top choice for the Presidential candidate.

While Mamata made it clear that Kalam is her first choice, it seems Mulayam is also not opposed to Kalam's candidature. Kalam is also a name that the NDA may not be opposed to. Here is a look at what makes the seasoned scientist a Presidential favourite.

The 'missile man' as he is popularly called, has been used as a political missile in every race to the Rashtrapati Bhawan since 2002 and the reason his name has surfaced is simple - unorthodox, approachable, apolitical and known as the people's president from his first term, he's the one man behind whom ideologically divided groups can unite to isolate the Congress.

In 2002, it was Mulayam Singh Yadav, who initially proposed Kalam's name for the President's name and the NDA backed him. Recognised for his contribution to India's defence research, a minority face with a majority appeal, completely apolitical, his image forced even the Congress to support him. The Left fielded its candidate but Kalam won the election with a thumping majority.

But in 2007, when the Congress was in power, a third front of parties emerged. The Samajwadi Party, AIADMK and TDP proposed Kalam's name for a second term, the NDA wanted Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Eventually, the Left abstained and the Congress outsmarted others with the election of Prathibha Patil as the first woman President.

Now for the third time in 2012, as Mulayam and Mamata ask for a return of Kalam, the scientist and former president is weary of being used as a political pawn. He realises that his image could unite ideologically divided forces outside the UPA. In fact his candidature could even put strong UPA allies like the DMK in a delicate spot. But Kalam seems clear for the moment, till he's certain of a comfortable victory, he will not indulge himself.