Pranab Mukherjee's views on Rahul Gandhi spark controversy : The Tribune India

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Pranab Mukherjee's views on Rahul Gandhi spark controversy

Congress leaders sense ‘BJP hand’, question ‘timing’ and ‘motive’ behind daughter Sharmishtha’s book; “Every time a politician releases a book, my respect for Sheilaji (late Congress leader Sheila Dikshit) goes up”, says Pawan Khera

Pranab Mukherjee's views on Rahul Gandhi spark controversy

Rahul Gandhi. PTI file

Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, December 7

Former Congress spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee’s book on her ‘baba’, late President Pranab Mukherjee, has sparked off quite a controversy, especially about his thoughts and feelings regarding senior party leader Rahul Gandhi, who is perceived as a challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the general election next year.  

Sharmistha's book is based on notings in his personal diaries and conversations and discussions she had with him. 

Reports say the book is “a mirror to the father-daughter relationship” and holds details about Mukherjee’s journey from a small village in West Bengal to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

However, it is the bits about his unfulfilled ambition to become the Prime Minister due to certain issues with Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and remarks about Rahul Gandhi (his “lack of charisma and political understanding”, “politics was not his calling” and his “frequent disappearing acts”) that are making the headlines. 

According to Sharmishtha, the late President saw Rahul’s ordinance-tearing act in September 2013 as the final nail in the Congress’s coffin on the eve of the 2014 general election.

Pranab Mukherjee served as Commerce Minister, External Affairs Minister, Defence Minister, Finance Minister and India’s 13th President (2012 to 2017) but never as the Prime Minister which was probably his ultimate ambition.

The timing

The book is set for December 11 release.

Political books and biographies are also about the timing, a reason why the book, ‘Pranab, My Father: A Daughter Remembers’, is in the news.

The book comes on the eve of the Lok Sabha election and at a time when the Congress is trying to project Rahul Gandhi as a possible contender against PM Modi and whispers have started in political corridors about a “BJP hand” and possible “political benefits” for Sharmishtha.

Notably, without naming the author or the book, Congress leader Pawan Khera said every time a politician releases a book, his respect for former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit goes up.

“The year was 2014-15. Sheila ji was penning her autobiography. She held several rounds of conversations with friends & family members to get their inputs on what all should find a mention in the book. All through the process, she was steadfast on the need to not sensationalise the book. Every time a politician releases a book, my respect for Sheilaji goes up,” he wrote on social media.

Sharmishtha’s book

Reports on the book suggest Mukherjee’s doubts regarding Rahul Gandhi's leadership.

“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 ‘am’ and ‘pm’, how do they hope to run the PMO one day?” agencies quoted Sharmistha as saying.

“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,” as per the account.

‘Defaming’ Rahul Gandhi

According to Congress leaders, the book was being published just to “defame Rahul Gandhi and the Gandhi family” which is “unfortunate” given that the party gave the late leader the highest position any citizen of the country can aspire for.

As per Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar, Sharmistha was “just being used by the BJP to defame Rahul Gandhi” as the “Congress did justice with his abilities”.

“BJP always has a hidden agenda to defame a person using a third person. Rahul Gandhi is a leader with an honest image. These people (BJP) always fear Rahul Gandhi. As per a strategy, they (BJP) are defaming Rahul ji using someone like Sharmistha ji,” he was quoted as saying. 

Party leaders also believe that the BJP may be contemplating to launch Sharmishtha. 

“PM Modi would always touch baba's feet,” Sharmishtha noted in the book. 


About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

#BJP #Congress #Narendra Modi #Rahul Gandhi

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