The debate over who should be the next President is gathering steam, and much to the annoyance of his drum-beaters, it appears it is not going to be A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The CPI(M)’s Gurudas Dasgupta says his party is against a second term for any President—a precedent not followed since Dr Rajendra Prasad—and the Congress’s Vasant Sathe believes that Kalam won’t stand again if there is no consensus.
Last night, on CNN-IBN‘s “Face the Nation” programme, the very loquacious human resources head of Infosys, T.V. Mohandas Pai, was produced as the non-political talking head on the show against the backdrop of his former boss and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy being in the race, and this is what he said.
Vidya Shankar Aiyar: As a non-politician, what is your view? Should the next President be a politician or someone like Abdul Kalam?
Mohandas Pai: We need to understand that we are possibly the youngest large nation. There are 650 million people below the age of 30. And across all these young peope, Kalam has connected very well. Young people see in Dr Kalam, their vision for the country. They connect with him, they get excited with him, they see him as a role model. Because of that he is the right person.
We need to understand that we need to be inclusive, we have to understand that we have to do something for young people. We have not taken care of young generations.
Vidya Shankar Aiyar: So, Mr Pai, I take it that you support President Kalam for a second term but not Narayana Murthy?
Mohandas Pai: I support Dr Kalam for the second term because he has been a wonderful President. I am not talking about Narayana Murthy at all.
Vidya Shankar Aiyar: Why not give a chance to someone else?
Mohandas Pai: Well, if you want to give a chance to somebody else you have to find a role model like Kalam who I think should connect with young people. Because young people make up the majority of this country and they need a role model…
Vidya Shankar Aiyar: Do you think caste, religion, geographical region, gender don’t matter as our politicians say?
Mohandas Pai: I think they should not matter. The most competent person should be President. We have Rajendra Babu, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain…
Vidya Shankar Aiyar: My question is not whether it should not matter. My question is, do you believe politicians who say these factors don’t matter?
Mohandas Pai: I think they do matter. Back of hand, it does matter. Every political party wants its nominee, whatever be the background, because the President has a lot of rights over everybody else. I think they do use that…