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Opinion

In his memoirs, Pranab blames Manmohan, Sonia for Cong’s defeat, says that the first term of Modi’s government was autocratic

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An autobiography of former President Pranab Mukherjee, to be published soon, blames Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the party’s devastating loss in the 2014 general election, and maintains that Prime Minister Narendra Modi employed an autocratic style of government during his first term in office, the book’s publisher announced on Friday.

Mukherjee, who was a senior minister in the United Progressive Alliance government and a top problem solver for the Congress party before his term as president from 2012 to 2017, died in August. His new book, The presidential years, It is the fourth volume of his memoirs and will be released in January 2021.

The statements attributed to Mukherjee are from a statement published by Rupa Books on Friday. HT has not seen a copy of the book or directly verified the excerpts, which have yet to be published.

“While Dr. Singh was concerned about saving the coalition, which affected governance, Modi seemed to have employed a rather autocratic style of governance during his first term, as seen in the bitter relationship between the government, the legislature and the judiciary, ”he wrote, according to the statement. “Only time will tell if there is a better understanding of these issues in the second term of this government.”

According to the statement, the former president, whose 85th birthday was celebrated on Friday, wrote in his first-person account that he believed that the moral authority to govern was vested in the prime minister and that the state of the nation always reflected the functioning. of the PM and its administration.

Mukherjee, who was a high-ranking leader of the Congress party for five decades and held almost all the high-level positions in the party and the central government, said strongly about the functioning of his party.

“I think the party leadership lost political focus after my promotion as president. While Sonia Gandhi was unable to handle party affairs, Dr. Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs, ”he wrote. In the 2014 general election, Congress slipped to its worst performance, winning just 44 of Lok Sabha’s 543 seats. He wrote that there was a section of leaders who believed that if he rose to prime minister in 2004, when Congress joined a coalition to seize power with an unexpectedly strong performance in the general election, the party’s poor performance in Lok Sabha polls 2014. could have been avoided. But, he added, he did not subscribe to this opinion.

Mukherjee’s memoirs come amid a firestorm unleashed in Congress by its internal processes, as senior leaders publicly express their disgust after a series of electoral setbacks. In August, a group of 23 leaders wrote to the head of the party, Gandhi, demanding internal reforms.

Congressional and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders declined to comment.

In the book, replete with rare photos and handwritten notes, according to Rupa, Mukherjee also referred to the diplomatic tension that apparently erupted during US President Barack Obama’s visit in 2015 when the US Secret Service insisted that Obama travel. in a specially armored vehicle. brought from the USA and not in the car designated for use by the Indian head of state.

“They wanted me to travel in the same armored vehicle with Obama. I politely but firmly refused to do so, and asked the MEA to inform the American authorities that when the American president traveled with the Indian president to India, he would have to rely on our security arrangements. It cannot be the other way around, ”he said, according to the statement.

The memoirs, the editor said, also focused on his journey from a remote village in Bengal to Rashtrapati Bhavan, and how he recast the presidency, Rupa’s statement added. The book also recalled the challenges he faced as president, the difficult decisions he made, and the tightrope walk he undertook to ensure that both constitutional ownership and opinion were taken into consideration.

“If he were still alive, he would have loved to notice the widespread enthusiasm among readers for reading this extremely well-written autobiography. It has such a personal tone that it almost seems to me that the former president is sitting in his study with a cup of tea (and shingara) and telling his story, ”said Kapish G Mehra, CEO of Rupa Publications India.

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