The UPA's choice of Pranab Mukherjee as its presidential candidate has been well received not only in political circles but in the country at large. It's hard to think of many people with credentials comparable to Mr Mukherjee's- or with such broad acceptability. If Mukherjee does make it to Rashtrapati Bhavan- and this looks highly probable now- it would show that, for all its contentiousness, the Indian political process is capable of throwing up the right choice.
Two other comments on this issue. One, the discussions in the political class highlighted the complete disconnect between the social media- the Internet and Twitter crowd- and the political class. The social media had been pushing for a non-political person. Some of the names one came across: N R Narayana Murthy, E Sreedharan, Ratan Tata and even Anna Hazare. In the last few weeks, as the race hotted up, not one of these names was mentioned even in passing in political circles. Whatever the differences amongst them, politicians are united in believing that the president should be somebody with a political background. (Kalam qualifies now as he has been president and I guess he qualified earlier as somebody who held a position in government for very long). In this, I believe the political class was entirely right. The havoc that a non-politician posing as a messiah can create is unimaginable.
Two, am I the only one disappointed with Kalam not shooting down his candidature? By convention, nobody has held the office for more than one term. Kalam is 81. It would be have been appropriate for Kalam to have declared at the very outset that he would not like to be considered. Instead, I understand from media reports that he is still keeping his options open.