"Kalam is a Muslim with a Hindu soul."
—a BJP leader
After a bout of murky political manoeuvrings over the presidential succession, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam emerged with the backing of an overwhelming majority of the establishment. The Congress, after two days of being torn between its natural inclination to oppose the NDA and a strong compulsion to endorse an eminent, apolitical member of the minority community, finally plumped for the Missile Man.
"No party can claim him as 'their candidate'," said Congress spokesperson S. Jaipal Reddy, pointing out that Kalam wasn't the BJP's first choice. In fact, BJP spokesperson Sunil Shastri had dismissed Kalam's candidature a fortnight ago saying, "Why should we have a non-political person?" While the BJP, TDP and SP have all tried to take the credit for having been the first to propose his name, most agree with Reddy that Kalam will not play anyone's game.
Pressure from its chief ministers and allies forced the Congress to decide in favour of Kalam, at the cost of alienating the Left Front and putting at risk a...