Prakash Javadekar presents book 'Guru-Sangraha' to Shri Pranab Mukherjee

India Today magazine cover

India Today magazine cover

Recollecting a conversation with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the former President pointed out that though Sonia admitted that Dr Manmohan Singh was the most suitable to be the President, she had reminded him of the crucial role he was playing in the functioning of the government and how he was needed there. "Sonia Gandhi chose me to become PM", Dr Singh said, pointing out that Mr Mukherjee was senior to him in their party. He had every reason to feel a grievance that he was better qualified than I was to become the Prime Minister.

Speaking on the occasion of release of his latest series of his autobiography "The Coalition Years: 1996-2012", Mukherjee noted: "I can not claim to have the objectivity of a historian, which I am not".

Mukherjee wrote in his book that after the 2004 election victory there was intense speculation in the party about who would be the prime minister, but the consensus within the Congress was that the incumbent should be a political leader with experience in party affairs and administration.

Pranab Mukherjee was widely expected to be the Congress choice for the Prime Minister's post after Sonia Gandhi declined to lead the government in 2004. He said Pranab Mukherjee knew that neither he (Manmohan Singh) had the choice or any part in the decision. In his book, Mukherjee said he has described the coalition years and tried not to bring in any personal matters.

"It was hard to have one coalition within and another outside".

Contrary to expectation, there was no friction between them and they both worked together amiably to run the government, Singh said. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was present at the launch too. "Much later I learnt that Dada gets angry when he doesn't want to say No to a proposition that you have taken to him but doesn't want to say Yes either", said Mr. Yechury. "We ran the government as a cohesive team of which Pranab Mukherjee was the most important member", Singh added.