In the fourth volume of his autobiography titled, ‘The Presidential Years (2012-2017)’, former President Pranab Mukherjee had blamed the Congress party for losing its focus, after his elevation to the post of the President. The new book of Pranab Mukherjee, who passed away on August 31 this year, is slated to be released in January 2021.
On Friday, publisher Rupa Publications shared excerpts from the much-anticipated book wherein President Mukherjee had made making scathing observations about his former party. “We are delighted to announce the publication of ‘The Presidential Years’ by Pranab Mukherjee. Releasing in January 2021. ‘The Presidential Years’ gives us a glimpse of President Pranab Mukherjee at his best,” the publication tweeted.
We are delighted to announce the publication of ‘The Presidential Years’ by #PranabMukherjee.— Rupa Publications (@Rupa_Books) December 11, 2020
Releasing in January 2021.
‘The Presidential Years’ gives us a glimpse of President Pranab Mukherjee at his best. pic.twitter.com/zCYRdbKrWk
Pranab Mukherjee attributed Congress’ loss of 2014 elections to lack of ‘political focus’, slammed Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi
The former President narrated how several Congress leaders believed his lack of elevation to the post of the Prime Minister in 2004 was responsible for the defeat of the once-formidable Congress party in the 2014 General Elections.
Pranab Mukherjee recounted, “Some members of the Congress have theorized that, had I become the PM in 2004, the party might have averted the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing. Though I don’t subscribe to this view, I do believe that the party’s leadership lost political focus after my elevation as President.”
While blaming top brass of Congress leaders for the debacle, Mukherjee added, “While Sonia Gandhi was unable to handle the affairs of the party, Dr Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs.” It is pertinent to mention that Congress tally in the 2014 elections had reduced to a dismal 44.
As per the book excerpts, Pranab Mukherjee pointed out how the lack of governance, on the part of Manmohan Singh who was busy in coalition politics, cost them the popular vote. While emphasising on differences between Singh and incumbent PM Narendra Modi, President Mukherjee wrote, “While Dr Singh was preoccupied with saving the coalition, which took a toll on governance, Modi seemed to have employed a rather autocratic style of governance during his first term, as seen by the bitter relationship among the government, the legislature and the judiciary.”
While cautioning the current political dispensation, he highlighted, “Only time will tell if there is a better understanding of such matters in the second term of this government..” He had authored 3 other memoirs titled, ‘The Dramatic Years: The Indira Gandhi Years’, ‘The Turbulent Years: 1980-1996’ and ‘The Coalition Years: 1996-2012.’
It is perhaps due to this outlook for the former President that the relationship between Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee became sour. In 2019, when it was announced that the Bharat Ratna would be conferred on Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi had displayed staggering pettiness and decided to stay away from the award ceremony.
Despite an invitation extended from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, even former Congress President Rahul Gandhi stayed away from Pranab Mukherjee’s Bharat Ratna event.
While it is not yet clear why he chose to skip the function felicitating one of the party’s veteran leaders, there were speculations that it might be because of the fact that Mukherjee chose to attend an RSS event last year. The former President had hailed Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS as a ‘great son of Mother India’. Even back then Congress had displayed displeasure at his decision. While Rahul Gandhi chose to not even tweet his congratulations to Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh and Sonia were also absent from the ceremony.