Sonia to PM’s Post: Pranab’s Memoir Reflects Upon INC’s Leadership
Pranab Mukherjee’s memoir is set to release in January 2021.
In his last memoir The Presidential Years, Pranab Mukherjee writes about the Indian National Congress (INC) “losing political focus", the shortfalls of Sonia Gandhi’s and Manmohan Singh’s governance, leadership and diplomacy.
The excerpt of Mukherjee’s memoir, which was released by Rupa Publications on Friday, comes at a time when the weaknesses of the INC have been exposed for all to see – made most explicit by their performance in electoral races and analysed in depth by politicians and experts alike.
Mukherjee traces this decline back to 2004, a time when many party members believed that the 2014 elections might have yielded different results if Pranab Mukherjee was the Prime Minister.
The excerpt says, “some members of the Congress have theorised that, had I become the PM in 2004, the party might have averted the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing.”
He elaborates, “While Sonia Gandhi was unable to handle the affairs of the party, Dr (Manmohan) Singh's prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs.”
‘The Moral Authority to Govern Vests With the PM’
Pranab Mukherjee was often called “the best prime minister that India never had” and iterates his belief that “the moral authority to govern vests with the PM” in his memoir.
Reflecting on Manmohan Singh’s tenure as Prime Minister and Narendra Modi’s style of governance, he writes, “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...”
While narrating a small anecdote about a "minor diplomatic problem" that arose during the then US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in 2015, Mukherjee offers insight into his flair for diplomacy and expertise on good-natured but stern leadership.
“They wanted me to travel in the same armoured car along with Obama,” he wrote of a time when the US Secret Service insisted that Obama travels in a specially-armoured vehicle.
“I politely but firmly refused to do so, and requested the Ministry of External Affairs to inform the US authorities that when the US president travels with the Indian president in India, he would have to trust our security arrangements.”
Publishers describe The Presidential Years as a "deeply personal account" in which Mukherjee talks of "the difficult decisions he had to make and the tightrope walk he had to undertake to ensure that both constitutional propriety and his opinion were taken into consideration."
The memoir is set to release in January 2021.
(With inputs from NDTV, The Hindu, Scroll.in)
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