He made mistakes, so did I: President Pranab Mukherjee on Rajiv Gandhi

NEW DELHI (TIP): Noting that he has been maintaining a daily diary for years, President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday underlined the complexities a politician faces when he decides to bring out facts related to governance in public domain. Speaking at the release of the second volume of his memoirs, The Turbulent Years: 1980-96, he said “some facts are to be buried with me”.

The book was released by Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

Talking about his daily diary, he said: “I have advised my daughter, who is the custodian of this diary, to never release this… digitise this but never release it. If you digitise it, as and when the government finds it necessary, they will release.”

On Rajiv Gandhi

While Mukherjee clarifies he never made a claim for the PM’s post after Indira Gandhi’s death, he cannot but conceal the complex bond he shared with Rajiv Gandhi, especially the hurt when Rajiv, immediately after becoming PM, dropped him from the cabinet. Mukherjee was the finance minister then.

Mukherjee recalls, “…I was shell-shocked and flabbergasted… But I composed myself, and sat alongside my wife as she watched the swearing-in ceremony on television.” He says: “I made no special effort to reach out to Rajiv or ask why I was dropped…”

Rajiv gave him a second “shock” soon. At the centenary session of the Congress in 1985 in Mumbai, Mukherjee writes, “After being asked to move the main centenary declaration, to my utter shock and dismay, I was dropped from the CWC when it was reconstituted in January 1986. This was a blow which hurt me even more than being dropped from the cabinet.”

In April 1986, Mukherjee gave an interview to The Illustrated Weekly, which Rajiv believed “went beyond the limits of party discipline”. “…all I can say is that he made mistakes and so did I,” says Mukherjee.

The bond changed after the 1989 election. “Rajiv’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections of 1989 brought us close together again…”

He points at Rajiv’s failures and says “Rajiv’s actions on Shah Bano judgement and Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Bill drew criticism and eroded his modern image”. “The opening of Ram Janmabhoomi temple site was perhaps another error of judgement,” he writes.

On Manmohan Singh

“There has been some discussion regarding differences between RBI Governor Dr Manmohan Singh, and me…I never saw

my differences with Dr Singh…as anything other than legitimate exchanges of opinion over professional matters…I had absolutely no role in Dr Manmohan Singh’s departure from the RBI.”

Source: The Indian Express

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