‘Desh ke neta kaise ho? Abdul Kalam jaise ho!’

Pratap Bhanu Mehta of the Centre for Policy Research has a fine piece in today’s Indian Express on the “Chacha Kalam” phenomenon, and tangentially raises the quite delightful prospect of whether the Missile Man could be a future prime minister.

“The standard narrative about A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s immense popularity emphasises the fact that he was an apolitical individual, above the partisanship and pettiness of what we now take to be politics. But there is good reason to think that the opposite is true. What made him appealing to so many was that he offered a different vision of politics; he came to personify what people, in other times and places, expected of their politicians.

“It is politicians who most need to learn from his conduct. Kalam was engaging in politics in the deeper sense of the term: he had an unerring instinct for what the people were looking for, he never criticised but only proposed alternatives, he levelled distinctions between people not by lowering the elite but by raising the aspirations of masses, and he relentlessly called attention to the fact that the Office was a means not an end. It is always possible to probe further into his motives and compromises. But he succeeded not because he was apolitical but because he had a sense of what people want in a politician: the capacity to project a future full of possibilities with conviction and sincerity.”

Read the full article here: Prime Minister Kalam?

Cartoon courtesy: P. Mahmud/ Praja Vani