Pranab Mukherjee's Chennai stop to kick start his Presidential campaign is bound to raise many uncomfortable questions. Should the UPA's Presidential candidate launch his campaign at the doorstep of a party Chief whose flock, including his daughter, are accused and were put behind bars for their alleged role in the 2G scam? It's for the second time the DMK has ensured that the UPA's Presidential candidate kicked off the campaign in Chennai. In 2007, UPA's nominee and the present outgoing President Ms Pratibha Patil launched her campaign in a massive women's rally in the city. Then, the DMK was in power and it was a show of strength. Launching the country's first prospective President was also, for Chief Minister Karunanidhi an opportunity to flaunt that he was a champion of women.
But this time things have changed for worse; the party suffered a huge defeat in the assembly polls last year; two of its Union Ministers, A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran, had to resign on corruption charges in the spectrum scam. For the UPA, DMK's tally in the Parliament and Tamil Nadu assembly would be crucial. The southern ally is known for its antics, so the Congress' erstwhile trouble shooter may have thought it prudent to pay the devil its due to ensure a smooth walk into Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It was a Maharajah's welcome to Pranab Mukherjee at Karunanidhi's CIT Colony Residence. The road was dotted with women holding plates full of rose petals and candles. Music from traditional south Indian music bands filled the air. Perhaps for the first time taking a leaf out of IPL's cheer girls, pretty women were hired from an event management group to receive the soon to be first citizen of the country.
But why is the DMK that ruffled Congress' feathers over the last two years over many issues is now in a hyper mode to soothe the party. Two of Karunanidhi's key concerns now remain addressed. His daughter Kanimozhi and blue-eyed-boy A Raja are out on bail. After a huge defeat in state elections, he has set his eyes on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls for a comeback of sorts. And continuing the alliance with the Congress is also seen as a safe bet to fight the 2G scam case.
The President may be the country's constitutional head, above the realms of politics. But the road to the Presidential Palace seems to lack that touch of class and decorum.