Late Pranab Mukherjee’s household feuds over his memoirs

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 15

Pranab Mukherjee’s children are on a war path over the publication of the late President’s memoirs which appear to feature some disparaging references to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom Mukherjee blamed for the party’s 2014 electoral loss.

In a dramatic turn of events today, Mukherjee’s son and former Congress MP Abhijit Mukherjee shot off a letter to publishers Rupa asking them to stop the publication of the memoirs entitled “The Presidential Years”.

Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishtha who is in custody of her late father’s notes and diaries however asked her brother not to make trouble by preventing the publication of the content for “cheap publicity”.

“ I, daughter of the author of the memoir ‘The Presidential Years’, request my brother @ABHIJIT_LS not to create any unnecessary hurdles in publication of the last book written by our father. He completed the manuscript before he fell sick. The final draft contains my dads’ hand written notes & comments that have been strictly adhered to. The views expressed by him are his own & no one should try to stop it from being published for any cheap publicity. That would be the greatest disservice to our departed father,” Sharmishtha wrote on Twitter after her brother earlier tweeted, “I , the Son of the author of the Memoir “ The Presidential Years” request you to kindly stop the publication of the memoir as well as motivated excerpts which is already floating in certain media platforms without my written consent.”

Abhijit said his father would have done the same had he been alive.

The memoirs whose excerpts were this week released by Rupa have Pranab Mukherjee blaming Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the party’s dismal 2014 showing.

Pranab says in the memoirs that some in the grand old organisation believed that the debacle could have been averted had he been prime minister.

“The Presidential Years 2012-2017” is set for January 2021 release and features the late President’s impressions of the two prime ministers he worked with – Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

Mukheerjee says, “I believe that the moral authority to govern vests with the PM. The overall state of the nation is reflective of the functioning of the PM and his administration. While Dr Singh was preoccupied with saving the coalition, which took a toll on governance, Modi seemed to have employed a rather autocratic style of governance during his ­first term, as seen by the bitter relationship among the government, the legislature and the judiciary. Only time will tell if there is a better understanding on such matters in the second term of this government.”

On Congress party’s 2014 electoral rout, Mukherjee makes a candid admission, “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 Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs.”

Rupa Publications India, publishers of the memoirs that coincide with the ongoing leadership wars in the Congress, released excerpts from the book today on the occasion of late Mukherjee’s birthday.

Mukherjee died on August 31 this year.

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