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Pranab”s Ascent To Rashtrapati Bhawan: Implications And Assumptions

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By Twesh Mishra:

Always the bridegroom and never the bride — Barkha Dutt

The night that Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi officially declared Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the Presidential poll, Barkha’s avowal on NDTV 24×7 was forlornly precise. The former journalist had played the knight in shining armour to the congress party for over four decades, yet always settled for penultimate designations.

After rising into prominence during Indira Gandhi’s regime as the Finance Minister, Pranab had carved a clout within the Congress party for himself. Relations with the Gandhi family soured after Indira Gandhi’s assassination when the dynamic bong expressed desires to be the Prime Minister of the country. He made his comeback into the corridors of power with UPA I as the External Affairs Minister during which he struck the crucial Indo-US Nuclear deal. Mukherjee resumed the coveted Finance Ministry by succeeding P Chidambaram.

Despite Pranab’s seemingly indispensible involvement in the functioning of the UPA alliance, his nomination for to Rashtrapati Bhawan is not surprizing. The Congress party diffused Mamta Banerjee in her heartland by fielding a ‘Bengali’ candidate who requested his ‘like a sister’ coalition ally to support his candidature. Magnanimous pressure was induced on Didi to pave way for the first ‘Bengali’ President of the country.

The segregation of Pranab Mukherjee from active politics can be interpreted to various decrees. Within the Congress party Rahul Gandhi may emerge pervasive, now that the one who opposed his father’s succession would be nullified. Possibility for stalwarts such as Motilal Vohra and Ghulam Nabi Azad to return into prominence cannot be ruled out. This may also be an opportunity for Salman Khursheed and P Chidambaram to be promoted to being the second in command within the UPA. It is assured that his absence is not being taken lightly and major reshuffling within the Congress party may be on the cards. The vacated Finance Ministry has been hounded by allies hoping to grab hold of the powerful office. Heavily monitored, the UPA partners are looking to being projected as the other most influential party in national politics.

The tenure of Pratibha Patil had reduced the already ceremonial designation to an office that was merely allocated. With crores worth of foreign trips and seldom making public appearances lady President had transmuted the most dignified designation in the country to that a getaway opportunity. It can be assured that Pranab Mukherjee would not adhere to the precedent set by his precursor. After two decades a political personality of his stature is being projected as the future President of India, despite the stiff competition by P.A. Sangma, political gurus are speaking purely in numbers.

The odds are greatly in favour of Pranab Mukherjee and Sangma’s candidature is being perceived as being merely symbolic in nature. There is no doubt that Sangma is a qualified candidate but politics seldom considers merits and demerits. Indian politics is an imbroglio of money management and vote bank equations where individualist desires drive those involved.

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author:

Twesh Mishra, Rationalist, political inclined, procrastinator, lazy, grumpy, moody, ponder master, slightly communist, slightly anti-leftist, racist, bluntly diplomatic and social media buff. Also, Political Correspondent,Youth Ki Awaaz.[/box]

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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