New Delhi: India's political fix-it man is preparing to rise above the fray.
Pranab Mukherjee, who spent years whipping coalition partners into shape and quelling scandals as the Congress party's chief firefighter, seems likely to leave all that behind and become India's figurehead president in an election on Thursday.
"Eight years he has been under enormous strain. He has been carrying all the burdens of the government," said journalist Inder Malhotra, who has long documented the Congress party leadership. "If he doesn't go for it now, he knows his time will pass."
Mukherjee, 76, has spent weeks traveling the country to solidify his support in the 4,896-member electoral college, which includes all national and state legislators. And if Mukherjee can't be counted on to corral votes, who can?
He is running against opposition candidate Purno Agitok Sangma but appears to have locked down victory, with media reports predicting he will get more than two-thirds of the vote, attracting support even from parties opposed to the government, despite his recent widely criticized stint as finance minister.
Text and Images: AP
Image: In this Friday, July 13, 2012 file photo, Pranab Mukherjee, presidential candidate of UPA, wears a traditional headgear presented by Congress party members during his visit to meet Maharastra state lawmakers in Mumbai, India. Mukherjee, who spent years whipping coalition partners into shape and quelling scandals as the Congress Party's chief firefighter, seems likely to leave all that behind and become India's figurehead president in an election on Thursday, July 18, 2012.