The late Pranab Mukherjee was known to be a man who kept most facts close to his chest. Given his years of experience, there were many who confided in him, and most of it was jotted down in his diary.
Years after his death, his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, who has now retired from active politics, has put his views together in the book ‘Pranab, My Father: A Daughter Remembers’. But care has been taken to omit controversial details that Pranab Mukherjee had insisted would go with him.
Pranab Mukherjee had the experience of working with many prime ministers and several generations of the Gandhi family — from Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi and finally Rahul Gandhi.
The book makes it clear that he had an uneasy relation with Rajiv Gandhi. It also explains that the Congress veteran was not impressed with the political side of Rahul Gandhi.
Pranab Mukherjee described him as “courteous and full of questions but not yet politically mature”. He also thought that Rahul Gandhi’s tearing of the ordinance publicly while Dr Manmohan Singh was abroad was the “final nail in the coffin of the UPA”.
The book says: “On 15 July 2013, Rahul Gandhi came for lunch. He spelt out details of his plans for revamping the party. He appeared confident of meeting the challenges. But had Pranab known what Rahul was about to do two months later, he would have advised Rahul against it.”
The incident mentioned here is when Rahul Gandhi walked into a press conference being held by Ajay Maken, who was defending a proposed ordinance on convicted netas, and tore it publicly, sending across shockwaves.
When Pranab Mukherjee heard the news, he was angry and red-faced. “Who does he think he is? He is not a member of the cabinet. Who is he to publicly trash a decision of the cabinet? The prime minister is abroad. Does he not even realise the implication of his actions and the effect it will have on the PM and government? What right does he have to humiliate the prime minister like this?” he had asked.
In his diary, Mukherjee wrote: “He has all the arrogance of his Gandhi-Nehru lineage without their political acumen.”