NEW DELHI DECEMBER 7: Sharmishtha Mukherjee, the daughter of late Former President and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukharjee, has written a new book Pranab My Father. In the book, Sharmishtha offers a glimpse into the life of Pranab Mukherjee, one of India’s tallest leaders through his personal diary notes and father-daughter conversations.
The books talks about Pranab Mukharjee’s equation with the Gandhis through the years when he was in the Congress and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he became the President of India.
What Pranab Mukharjee thought about Rahul Gandhi?
Rahul Gandhi, having the lineage of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, becomes an automatic contender for PM. However, his political acumen and ability to inspire masses, is often questioned by not just the BJP, but by people inside the Congress party.
The veteran Congress leader was also sceptical about Rahul’s ability the run the PMO. In the book, Sharmishtha writes his father saw Rahul Gandhi as “very courteous” and “full of questions” but not politically mature.
“During one of these visits on 25 March 2013, Pranab noted, ‘Rahul Gandhi is very courteous and has an interest in a diverse range of subjects but moves very quickly from one subject to another. I don’t know how much he listened and absorbed, he (Rahul Gandhi) is yet to be mature politically”, she said.
Pranab Mukharjee was also not happy about Rahul Gandhi’s sudden disappearances and absence from key party event. The former President was also not happy about the functioning of Rahul Gandhi’s office, who once goofed up and sent Rahul to meet him early morning even when the meeting was scheduled for the evening that day.
“One morning, during Pranab’s usual morning walk in the Mughal Gardens (now Amrit Udyan), Rahul came to see him. Pranab disliked any interruptions during his morning walks and puja. Nevertheless, he decided to meet him. It turned out that Rahul was actually scheduled to meet Pranab later in the evening, but his (Rahul’s) office mistakenly informed him that the meeting was in the morning. I came to know about the incident from one of the ADCs. When I asked my father, he commented sardonically, ‘If Rahul’s office can’t differentiate between ‘a.m.’ and ‘p.m.’, how do they hope to run the PMO one day?” Sharmishtha said.
She, however, also writes that Pranab Mukherjee would have appreciated Rahul Gandhi for his “dedication, tenacity and the outreach” during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and “countering bigotry”.
“Though Pranab was critical of Rahul and seemed to have lost faith in his ability to revive the Congress, one thing is undeniable. Had Pranab been alive today, he would have definitely appreciated Rahul’s dedication, tenacity, and the outreach during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. This 145-day Yatra, spanning over 4,000 km, has arguably positioned Rahul as a highly credible face of the political narrative countering bigotry”, she wrote in the book.
How Pranab Mukharjee saw PM Modi?
In the book, Sharmishtha writes about Pranab Mukherjee’s good equation with PM Modi and they both held each other in high esteem despite being from different ideologies. She said that PM Modi would always touch her father’s feet as a mark of respect.
“We had discussions on various issues. He told me that he valued my advice and I told him he will get my full cooperation. It is quite clear that he has clarity in his thought and has a professional approach to statecraft”, one of his diary notes read, according to Sharmishtha.
Pranab, his daughter claims, thought that, after Indira Gandhi, Modi is the first Prime Minister who “feels the pulse of the people very strongly.”
In one of his notes, the former President wrote that Modi wants to learn and he doesn’t pretend that is he “Mr Know all”.