New Delhi: There is still five months left for the race for the Rashtrapati Bhavan to begin. But the political quarters in the capital are already abuzz with speculations as to who will replace President A P J Abdul Kalam as the First Citizen of India when his current term ends in July.
Already several names are doing the rounds, beginning with Congress veterans like Dr Karan Singh and Sushil Kumar Shinde, to current Vice-President and BJP stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and CPI(M)'s long-standing Parliamentarian and present Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
And, surprise, surprise, someone has even dropped the name of Amitabh Bachchan as one of the potential candidates. According to reports, Bachchan friends in the Samajwadi Party have begun whispering his name with the support of the so-called 'Third Front' consisting of SP, TDP, AIADMK and AGP.
The speculation around Bachchan has continued even after the megastar went on record, saying he is 'unsuitable' for politics.
Some quarters also strongly believe that Kalam himself will continue for a second term in spite of the fact that the President has expressed lack of interest in a second innings, showing his preference for teaching instead. However, many believe that Kalam might change his mind as there has been pressure on him from the NDA camp, which has publicly favoured his continuance.
On Sunday, PTI quoted Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi as saying that the Congress will soon come out with a "formal, reasoned and well thought out decision" on the party's approach to the Presidential poll.
Union Minister Ambika Soni told the agency that her party "would not drag the issue of the highest office into small time politics" as it always worked for a consensus.
This has only added further fuel to the guessing game as it has left all permutations/combinations shattered. Political observers also believe that the actual approach to the Presidential poll of various political parties will depend on the possible outcome of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, scheduled for April-May.
From the Congress camp, Shinde has emerged as a frontrunner as a Dalit candidate but the appointment of a Dalit Chief Justice has now reduced his chances a wee bit.
Under the circumstances, if the Congress decides to go with a majority community candidate, the choice is very likely to be Dr Karan Singh, who has been in public life for more than 50 years now.