A tell-all memoir narrates how he missed being the PM


Rarely does any statesman bare it all with such honesty and freshness in a political prose as Pranab Mukherjee does. ‘The Coalition Years 1996-2012’, the new installment of memoir series that includes The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years and The Turbulent Years: 1980-1996, former President Pranab Mukherjee, an astute politician and a brilliant commentator has turned his own keen eyes to explain the era he was living in and how the political drama unfolded.

As President, he oversaw two very different governments, one led by the party where he was a star player and the other by its perennial nemesis. Mukherjee’s memoir provides a rare behind-the-scenes look into the statecraft and parliamentary politics.


“It is absolutely an account of how one looked at men and matters as an active political participant,” Mukherjee said on the occasion of release of his new memoir.

A tell-all memoir which narrates the way the UPA was run for 10 years and insights on how he missed being Prime Minister or Home Minister. He also touches upon all transitional and transformative moments of the Congress during his tenure and from the thirty-seven years of his rich experience.

The Coalition Years explains that how the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi in 2012, gave him the impression that she would nominate Manmohan Singh as presidential candidate and elevate him as the prime minister of the Congress-led UPA government. As it turns out, Sonia Gandhi is the real protagonist of this latest political autobiography by Mukherjee.

The result of this chaos theory proved Mukherjee as a gentleman politician, who despite an understanding of Gandhi’s choice and several objections and disapproval of state affairs, manages to have an excellent working rapport with her.

“There was an intense speculation, about her choice. Within the Congress party, the consensus was that the incumbent must be a political leader with experience in party affairs and administration. Finally, Sonia Gandhi named Dr Manmohan Singh as her choice and he accepted,” Mukherjee recounts of his understanding that he would be the next prime minister after Sonia declined.

Many were of the view that I “would not join the government because I could not work under Manmohan Singh, who had been my junior when I was the finance minister. Sonia Gandhi, however, insisted that I should join the government also to support Dr Manmohan Singh,” Mukherjee added.

The memoir also gives a peek into the all-out rebellion ahead of 1999 elections, against the possibility that Sonia Gandhi might be the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress. “Sharad Pawar, then leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, expected the party to request him, instead of Sonia Gandhi, to stake claim to form the government.”

The book was released on Friday, in the presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and  Vice-President Rahul Gandhi in the capital. Sitaram Yechuri, the General Secretary of CPI-M, DMK leader M.K. Kanimozhi and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav  were also present on the occasion.