Digs and Laughs, What Went Down At Pranab Mukherjee’s Book Launch

Dr Manmohan Singh had everyone in splits as he praised Pranab Da.

3 min read

Pranab Mukherjee’s book launch was held at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library’s hall, that could seat not more than 250 people. Yet, despite high security and lack of seats for the number of heads present, no one was asked to leave. Everyone found space, they sat on the floors or stood against the walls, but stayed for the event nevertheless.

Former PM, Manmohan Singh, walked into the room in his evergreen humble demeanor and greeted all three blocks of the audience with folded hands. Everyone stood up and smiled. Sonia Gandhi wasn’t on the official invitation list that was sent out but came for the launch and took one of the central block of seats on the left-edge with her son, Rahul Gandhi – the possible PM candidate in 2019 elections – on her right.

No One From BJP Attended

The launch of ‘The Coalition Years’ was a big affair with high-profile political leaders present. However, not one minister from the current government attended the launch despite Pranab Mukherjee’s stint as a President during BJP’s tenure.

The Congress was represented by Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. CPI by S Sudhakar Reddy, CPI-M by Sitaram Yechury, Samajwadi party by Akhilesh Yadav, DMK represented by M K Kanimozhi.

Dr Manmohan Singh Had Everyone in Splits

The high point of the evening was undeniably Dr Manmohan Singh’s speech on his old friend and colleague, Pranab Da. The former PM of India took to the stage and spoke of 2004 when he was asked to be Prime Minister by the party. Manmohan Singh said:

Pranab da was much more qualified than me to become the Prime Minister and had every reason to feel a grievance. However, everyone knows I had no say in the matter.

Following his speech, the audience broke into loud laughter, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Pranab da too laughed away. The audience enjoyed this unexpected humour from a PM who has never been much of a talker. Manmohan Singh went on to thank Pranab da for not letting that come in between their relationship, to which Pranab da responded with a smile.


Insight Into an Angry Pranab Da

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury took to the stage after Manmohan Singh, and shed light on the discussions he would have with Pranab da. He said 13 was a very significant number for him. This was brought up as 13,000 copies of his book were out on the first day. Yechury said:

He was the 13th president of India. His room in the parliament was number 13 too and most of our arguments would happen in the same room, where he would lose his temper. He wouldn’t reject the proposal or approve it. It was his way of tackling things.

Yechury said Pranab Da Has The Memory of 2 Elephants

Further shedding light on the arguments they would have, Yechury added, that often while talking about issues Pranab da had the knack of remembering such anecdotes of the past that Yechury wouldn’t remember himself.

I thought since I was much younger I would be able to remember. But very often while discussing things with Pranab da, he would bring up things from 30 years ago. Once that happened, I would be flabbergasted and completely get derailed from the argument at hand. 

Pranab Da’s fourth book on his presidency is yet to be out. However, he says that it is in this book that he will explore a personal side to him, of losing his wife on 18 August 2015 during his tenure as a president.

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

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