Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Kalam is making news. Last month, the former president urged the BJP, which pitchforked him into Rashtrapati Bhavan, to go along with the Indo-US nuclear bill since “it does not compromise India’s sovereignty”. Last week, the UPA government shot down a request by the “People’s President” to be provided with a plane to help him jet around to his various engagements at public expense, stating he was not entitled to it and that it would set an improper precedent.
And now, a cover story by Seema Mustafa in M.J. Akbar‘s new fortnightly magazine Covert suggests that the 76-year-old celibate, vegetarian, teetotaller Muslim who recites the Thirukkural and plays the veena, may be quietly mending his fences with the Congress and UPA by supporting the N-deal for a “political future” and seeking to work as a mediator between the Congress and the opposition. In other words, with elections round the corner, Kalam may be positioning himself to test the political waters.
Seema Mustafa writes that the proposal of a “national government”, first mooted during the fag end of Kalam’s stint, may be revived once again. Can a Congress-BJP coalition, now being assiduously mooted by the RSS leader M.G. Vaidya find favour? Will Kalam find favour of Sonia Gandhi and L.K. Advani? is Kalam a better bet than Advani and whoever the Congress throws up? Will politician Kalam be as acceptable as President Kalam? Or will the nationalist missile technologist end up being exposed as “The Secret Politician”?
Photograph: courtesy Rashtrapati Bhavan