Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s much anticipated autobiography ‘The Presidential Years, 2012-2017’ has become the biggest talking point in the corridors of power. The book, which he completed writing last year, was released on Tuesday.
In his memoir, Mukherjee observed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must listen to dissenting voices and use the Parliament as a forum to share his views to convince the Opposition and reach out to the country by speaking more often.
Glad that Babas’ book ‘The Presidential Years’ (the last of the four part series of his political autobiography) is out. Hope readers enjoy the book. pic.twitter.com/BzT09t09y8
— Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) January 5, 2021
Noting that the mere physical presence of the PM in Parliament makes a tremendous difference to its functioning, Mukherjee wrote, “Whether it was Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh, each of these former PMs made their presence felt on the floor of the House.”
“PM Modi, now in his second term, must take inspiration from his predecessors and provide visible leadership, through his enhanced presence in Parliament to avoid situations that had precipitated the parliamentary crisis we witnessed in the first term,” Mukherjee observed.
He also said that that had he continued as the Finance Minister, he would have ‘ensured’ Mamata Banerjee’s continuation in the UPA-II.
Drawing up a detailed comparison between UPA-I and UPA-II, he wrote, “In fact, there is a big difference in the way the UPA-I and UPA-II coalitions were formed. In 2004, UPA-I would not have come into existence without the support of Left parties and the Samajwadi Party (SP). When the Left parties withdrew support, the Confidence Motion moved by Manmohan Singh survived in the Lok Sabha mainly with the support of the Samajwadi Party.”
“When UPA-II was formed, many of the earlier partners such as the Left, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] were not part of the coalition. Instead, Mamata Banerjee joined with 19 members of the Lok Sabha from the Trinamool Congress. But she also did not continue her support to the UPA-II for long. Even after having allied with the Congress in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009 and in the Assembly polls of 2011, she withdrew support from UPA-II in September 2012, despite being one of its important members,” he wrote.
Commenting on Congress’ dismal show in the 2014 polls, Mukherjee wrote, that some members of the party had surmised that had he become the PM in 2004, Congress may have averted the Lok Sabha debacle.
“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 Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs. During my days in the Rajya Sabha, I managed to develop close links with several leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati,” he wrote.
Mukherjee also spelt out his relationship with other leaders across the political spectrum. “In fact, Mayawati’s personal affinity for me ensured her support during the presidential election, much to the chagrin of the SP supremo. Besides, some senior Congress leaders’ political naiveté and arrogance hurt the fortunes of the party further. Similarly, Maharashtra was handled badly, partly due to decisions taken by Sonia Gandhi. I would have brought back Shivraj Patil or Sushil Kumar Shinde, considering the dearth of a strong leader from the state, like Vilasrao Deshmukh. I don’t think I would have allowed the state of Telangana to be created,” he wrote in his book.