New Delhi, Oct 18: Former President Prab Mukherjee expected to be chosen as Prime Minister on two occasions — first in 2004 when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, and later in 2012 ahead of the Presidential election, he writes in his latest book “Coalition Years: 1996-2012”.
Prab admits eyeing PM's post
Mukherjee, a veteran Congress leader, also says that after Sonia Gandhi med Manmohan Singh as her choice for Prime Minister, he was actually reluctant to join the government as a cabinet minister under Singh, who had been his junior when he was Fince Minister under Indira Gandhi.
However, he rubbishes the perception that Manmohan Singh was an “accidental Prime Minister”. After Sonia Gandhi declined the UPA leaders’ proposal to become Prime Minister on May 18, 2004, “there was intense speculation in the party and the media about her choice”, Mukherjee writes. He says that this expectation was possibly based of the fact that “I had extensive experience in government while Singh’s vast experience was as a civil servant with five years as a reformist Fince Minister”. Filly, Sonia Gandhi med Manmohan Singh as her choice and he accepted this.
“Some media commentators reported that I would not join the government because I could not work under Manmohan Singh, who had been my junior when I was the Fince Minister. The fact was that I was reluctant to join the government, and informed Sonia Gandhi accordingly,” Mukherjee says.
Speaking at the release of the book recently, Manmohan Singh said Mukherjee had every reason to feel that he was better qualified than him for the Prime Minister’s post. He also said that contrary to what people may say or write, the two had no serious differences or friction on any matter during the UPA era. Mukherjee elaborates that once he joined the government at Sonia Gandhi’s insistence, he enjoyed good rapport with Manmohan Singh who “seemed to depend” on him. The second occasion when Mukherjee expected he would be asked to head the government came just ahead of his nomition as the presidential candidate.
After a meeting with Sonia Gandhi on June 2, 2012, when the Congress President discussed with him probable presidential candidates — including him — Mukherjee “returned with a vague impression that she (Sonia Gandhi) might wish to consider Manmohan Singh as the UPA presidential nominee”. (IANS)