days weeks of silence, the UPA’s ninth-choice candidate for President, Mrs. Pratibha Patil has revealed in Chennai today that she has nothing to do with the allegations levelled against her. This ends weeks of speculation and doubts on her faculty of speech. During such time, the only other statement ascribed to her by the press was “Why would I be a rubberstamp President? I wasn’t a rubberstamp Governor.”
One wonders why Mrs. Patil, who has variously been described as brave, courageous et al chose not to make this statement earlier. Probably she has been tutored only today. To save her face and theirs, the UPA had to appoint two spokespersons exclusively to protect their brave and courageous ninth-choice candidate. This after she made some silly comment about the burqa.
Do not miscontrue Mrs. Patil’s silence, my dear reader, as a sign of her strength. If she were right, she must have answered the allegations levelled against her. Any self-respecting person would have done that. Whether they were true or not, baseless or not, an answer from her would have won her the trust of the millions she is going to be the leader of. Why hide behind the wall and be comfortably shielded by Cabinet ministers?
A few days ago, The Hindu stooped so low to publish the following on the front page, with the obvious intent of maligning the incumbent President…
It was neither a Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué nor an official, signed press statement by the President’s spokesman — the only two ways the President lets his views and thinking be known. But on Wednesday, the Rashtrapati Bhavan experimented with a different format — an oral statement, conveying A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s willingness to enter the presidential fray.
A new and clever format, that permits the option of denial at a later stage.
I ask The Hindu, “Why don’t you ask the same of Mrs. Patil?” If the President can be ridiculed for not following protocol, then surely a Presidential contender must be expected to use a better mode of communication that rely on others to tell the world that she is clean.
The grade regurgiator
A few days ago, Rediff had published a head-to-head comparing the two main Presidential contenders – Mrs. Patil and Mr. Shekhawat. It made interesting read, and more importantly, brought back some old memories.
Back when we were in college, and preparing to write our SoP (statement of purpose) for grad school, we were advised to read a rather informative document by Dr. Mor Harchol-Balter of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. In it, she talks about a particular kind of student, who fills his SoP with statements like, “I stood first in class in high school. Then I received a perfect score in my college entrance exams. During my four years in college, my GPA has never gone below 3.95…” Though obviously from a bright student, such an SoP won’t impress a grad school admissions committee, opines Dr. Harchol-Balter. This is because this student, the grade regurgitator, while listing the honours he has won or been conferred with, misses the objective of the essay.
Precisely that is what strikes me when I read about Mrs. Pratibha Patil. Yes, she has been Minister for this, and Minister for that, Lok Sabha MP, PCC Chief, Governor. But she is from the Congress Party, and anybody could have been all that by simply staying close to the first family of the Congress. Okay, maybe the writer of the Rediff.com article might not have highlighted Mrs. Patil’s other achievements on purpose. But really, other than passing mentions of hospitals and charities run by her, no one seems to find anything worthwhile with which to fill her CV.
In essence, it looks like we have to gear up not for our first woman President, but a benificiary of tokenism, opportunism and nepotism.
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