PRESIDENTIAL YEARS… Had I been PM, Congress could have been saved from 2014 defeat: Pranab


NEWS PRANAB

NEW DELHI: The leadership of the Congress party “lost political focus after my elevation as president,” seasoned politician and former President, Pranab Mukherjee has opined. “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,” Mukherjee wrote in The Presidential Years that will be released by Rupa publishers in January.

Mukherjee, who died after a fall in his bathroom three months ago, said there were many who felt that if he was prime minister, in place of Singh, the party would not have lost the 2014 parliament polls. Mukherjee, who was a constant presence as cabinet minister in several Congress governments, was elevated as President in 2012, though he would have been happy if he was named as PM by the Congress party.

“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 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,” Mukherjee wrote.

Mukherjee has been a prominent Congressman and Union minister ever since the time of Indira Gandhi. He was the senior-most minister in the central government after the PM when Indira Gandhi fell to the bullets of her Sikh bodyguards in 1984. However, those surrounding the Nehru family decided to make Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi the next PM. Rajiv Gandhi was not in government and was Congress party general secretary at that time. Rajiv Gandhi was not comfortable with a senior politician like Pranab around, and Pranab finally left the Congress party and formed his own party for a few years. He returned to the Congress later and was the main adviser to both Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh through the two UPA periods. His sense of maturity was second to that of none.

Pranab also wrote that he felt Narendra Modi was more of an autocrat during his first term as Prime Minister, with less regard for legislature, judiciary etc. –IHN-NN

INDIA HERE AND NOW 

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