Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Pranab Mukherjee was better qualified than me to become PM: Manmohan Singh

Pranab Mukherjee was better qualified than me to become PM: Manmohan Singh

The third volume of former President Pranab Mukherjee's autobiography titled "The Coalition Years - 1996-2012" will be released on Friday in the presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of non-BJP parties.

Recollecting a conversation with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the former President pointed out that though Sonia admitted that Dr Manmohan Singh was the most suitable to be the President, she had reminded him of the crucial role he was playing in the functioning of the government and how he was needed there. He said Pranab Mukherjee knew that neither he (Manmohan Singh) had the choice or any part in the decision. "I became a politician by accident".

Describing Mukherjee as the "most distinguished living parliamentarian and Congressman", Singh said his elevation as the PM did not impact the relations between them. The widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who belonged to the Nehru-Gandhi family, was invited by Congress leaders to take over the reins of the party after her husband's assassination in 1991, but she vehemently refused to lead it.

"The prevalent expectation was that I would be the next choice for prime minister after Sonia Gandhi declined".

Speaking at the event, Mr Yadav said that a book about coalitions is very useful in the present context. "Beyond the challenges, complications and compulsions of coalition governments, this book is also a recollection of Mukherjee's journey as the Cabinet Minister in the key ministries of defence, external affairs and finance, beginning from 2004".

"So before the elections, we have got this book on coalition governments which may come handy", he said.

While Sonia Gandhi and Rahul did not speak nor sit on the dais, a number of leaders including CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI Secretary Sudhakar Reddy, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader Kanimozhi spoke.

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