BJP leaders giving slip to Pranab book launch?

Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s third volume of autobiography will hit the stands with its launch on Friday in the presence of ‘who-is-who’ from the Opposition.

None from the ruling dispensation will be on the dais, as the invite from the publisher reads that ‘The Coalition Years: 1996-2012’ will be released in the “presence of Manmohan Singh, Sitaram Yechury, Rahul Gandhi, S Sudhakar Reddy, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra and M K Kanimozhi”.

Sources said Mukherjee’s office had approached some government leaders but they did not confirm their presence at the function and that was why their names did not appear on the invite.

The Coalition Years e-invite

Mukherjee, before becoming the President in July 2012, served as minister under Manmohan Singh-led Congress government while CPI(M) General Secretary Yechury was part of a number of efforts since 1996 when coalition governments were formed.

Whether it is CPI (General Secretary Reddy), Samajawadi Party (National President Yadav), BSP (General Secretary Mishra) or DMK (Kanimozhi), all these parties had played significant roles in the making and breaking of coalition governments since 1996.

The final volume of his autobiography, which comes three months after he demitted the office of President, would deal with the experiments in coalition governments . However, it would not deal with his years in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The book is likely to have inside stories of the formation of these stories and the UPA experiment, the pulls and pressures of running a coalition government and Mukherjee’s views on such dispensations.

The book will deal with the Congress’ defeat in 1996 Lok Sabha elections and the rise of regional parties like TDP and Trinamool Congress. It would also throw some light into the reveal the compelling factors that forced Congress to withdraw support to the I K Gujral government.

It will also have Mukherjee’s vivid recollection as a Union Minister in Defence, External Affairs and Finance from 2004 and details of a meeting with Henry Kissinger in 2004 that is said to have altered the course of the Indo–US strategic partnership.

The first volume ‘The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years’, which “chronicle the politically tumultuous 1970s”, was out in December 2014 while the second volume ‘The Turbulent Years’, which “opens in mid-1980s and end at 1996”, was released in January 2016.

In the book dealing with Indira Gandhi’s time, which was written while he was the President, Mukherjee had said the infamous could have been an “avoidable event” and Congress and Indira Gandhi paid a “heavy price for this “misadventure”.

The second volume tries to correct a picture of Mukherjee wanting to succeed Indira. He said in this book that he did not aspire to become interim Prime Minister after Indira Gandhi’s assassination but such “false and spiteful” stories created misgivings in Rajiv Gandhi’s mind that soured their relationship.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 11, 2017)

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