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'Can't differentiate between AM and PM, how will they run PMO?': Pranab Mukherjee on Rahul Gandhi's office

Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, in her upcoming book "Pranab My Father", has talked about her father's views on Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, on whether he ever wanted to become the Prime Minister among other stories.

Shashwat Bhandari Edited By: Shashwat Bhandari @ShashBhandari New Delhi Updated on: December 06, 2023 20:01 IST
Pranab Mukherjee, Rahul Gandhi, Sharmistha Mukherjee
Image Source : PTI Former President Pranab Mukherjee is seen with the then Congress President Rahul Gandhi at an Iftaar party in New Delhi. Mukherjee, 84, died at an army hospital in New Delhi on Aug 31, 2020. (File photo)

Former President Pranab Mukherjee had once said that if Rahul Gandhi's office cannot differentiate between AM and PM, how do they hope to run PMO (Prime Minister's Office) one day, revealed her daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee in her upcoming book "Pranab My Father".

Recalling instances from his late father's political life, the former Congress spokesperson Sharmistha has talked about whether Pranab Mukherjee's had desire to become the Prime Minister, about Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, why Congress under Sonia wouldn't have chose him for the top post in 2004, among others. 

Sharmistha in her book mentioned one instance when Pranab Mukherjee was scheduled to meet Rahul Gandhi who showed up at a wrong time. 

"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 'a.m' and 'p.m', how do they hope to run the PMO one day?'"

Through her father's diary entries, personal stories narrated to her and her own research, Sharmistha uncovers new, hitherto unknown facets of his political life - his unfulfilled ambition of becoming India's prime minister arising out of his inability to emerge as the 'number one person' to earn Sonia Gandhi's trust, the personality cult around the Nehru-Gandhi family and Rahul Gandhi's lack of charisma and political understanding among other things, according to the book's publishers Rupa Publications.

"He (Rahul) was conspicuously absent during the flag-raising ceremony at the AICC on the party's 130th Foundation Day on 28 December 2014, barely six months after the Congress's loss in the general elections," the former Congress spokesperson writes in her book.

One of the early references in his diaries about Rahul Gandhi was on January 29, 2009, in the context of a CWC meeting that had discussions on strategies for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections that year as one of the agendas, the book says. After that, there are few references in his diaries of Rahul Gandhi visiting him at his residence.

"Pranab described him as 'very courteous' and 'full of questions', which he took as a sign of Rahul's desire to learn. But he felt that Rahul was 'yet to mature politically'.

Rahul continued to meet Pranab at Rashtrapati Bhavan, though not very frequently. Pranab advised him to join the Cabinet and gain some first-hand experience in governance. Rahul obviously did not heed the advice, as we all know," the book says.

"During one of these visits on 25 March 2013, Pranab noted, 'He has interest in diverse range of subjects but moves very quickly from one subject to another. I don't know how much he listened and absorbed'," it adds.

Pranab Mukherjee served as India's finance minister and subsequently became minister for External Affairs, Defence, Finance and Commerce. He was India's 13th president (2012 to 2017). He died on August 31, 2020 at the age of 84.

As the president of the single largest party Congress to win the Lok Sabha elections in 2004, Sonia Gandhi was tipped to be the prime minister and had the full support of the coalition partners.

With inputs from PTI

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