Hints of Oppn unity for 2019 visible at Pranab Mukherjee book launch; Sonia indicates Rahul would soon be party chief
Archis Mohan | New Delhi Last Updated at October 13, 2017 22:36 IST
“Elections beckon. The book will have lessons for us…If then some of you (the leaders on the dais) had the opportunity to discuss (coalition building) with ‘Netaji’ (his father Mulayam Singh Yadav), now it is my turn,” the former UP chief minister said. As Yadav sat down after delivering his brief speech, he was heartily congratulated by both the former president and former prime minister
Communist Party of India (CPI) chief S Sudhakar Reddy underlined the need to take lessons from the past with Indian democracy and the Constitution under threat. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Rajya Sabha member MK Kanimozhi said that today rights of the states are threatened and being taken away. Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Mishra who was one of the chief guests didn’t turn up.
Former prime minister Singh described Mukherjee as the greatest living politician and parliamentarian of India. Singh also described Mukherjee as “the greatest living Congressman”. Possibly hinting at the role Mukherjee might still play behind the scenes in Indian politics, Singh said the Congress party always turned to Mukherjee to resolve crises.
Singh recalled his long association with Mukherjee, dating back to the 1970s. Singh said Mukherjee is a politician by choice, while he became a politician by accident when PV Narasimha Rao invited him to be the finance minister.
On Sonia Gandhi having chosen him to be the prime minister in 2004 and Mukherjee, despite his more distinguished record, losing out, Singh said: “He (Mukherjee) had every reason to feel a grievance that he was better qualified than I was to become the prime minister. But he also knew that I had no choice in the matter.” Singh said Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar were the pillars of the UPA government, and he frequently turned to them for advice.
With ‘13’ being Mukherjee’s lucky number, the book was launched on October 13. The publisher said the original print order is of 13,000 copies. Mukherjee’s bungalow, before he moved to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in July 2012, was at 13, Talkatora Road, while his office at Parliament House was also at room number 13. Mukherjee was the 13th President of India.
Sonia hints Rahul would soon be Congress chief
Later at the end of the function, the Congress President confirmed to reporters that Rahul Gandhi would indeed by elected her successor to lead the party.
“You have been asking this for so many years and it’s now happening,” Sonia Gandhi told reporters as Rahul Gandhi walked by her side. The Congress Vice President didn’t comment on the issue. According to Congress sources, Rahul Gandhi could be elected the party chief after Diwali.
First Published: Fri, October 13 2017. 22:30 IST