Former president Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee died on August 31 in a Delhi hospital. He was 84.
Here are some famous quotes from his three-volume memoir -- 1) Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years (On Emergency): 2) 'The Turbulent Years: 1980-1996’ and 3) The Coalition Years: 1996-2012.
The impression of becoming Congress’ PM candidate in 2014: The Coalition Years: 1996-2012
“I thought that if she (Sonia Gandhi) selected (Manmohan) Singh for the presidential office, she may choose me as the Prime Minister. I had heard a rumour that she had given this formulation a serious thought while on a holiday in the Kaushambi Hills. The fact was that I was reluctant to join the government (led by Manmohan Singh) and informed Sonia Gandhi accordingly. She, however, insisted that I should join the government since I would be vital to its functioning...”
On Sanjay Gandhi’s crucial role in elections- The Turbulent Years: 1980-1996
“Sanjay Gandhi had played a crucial role in the (1980) elections. He had planned as well as executed a nationwide campaign and he worked hard to ensure the success of the party in the assembly elections. He revamped the organizational machinery in the states and, post the elections, hand-picked new chief ministers --- ensuring that those who had stood by Mrs Gandhi during her days of crisis were suitably rewarded...In much of post-Emergency literature, Sanjay Gandhi has been characterised as a villain, devoid of any good qualities. This animosity and venom against him was to a large extent the result of the euphoria surrounding the Janata Party’s creation, a wave of anti-Mrs (Indira) Gandhi sentiment and the division in the Congress.”
“There is a limit to our patience”: The Coalition Years: 1996-2012
“After the [26/11] incident, the first call was from Condoleezza Rice. She was concerned about the fallout. I told her, 'The situation is grave. I do not believe in romanticising relations or indulging in any sort of adventurism, but there is a limit to one's patience. We are truly concerned.' I also insisted that the US exert pressure on Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism. I took a strong exception to the sale of sophisticated arms and equipment to Pakistan by the US.
Babri demolition was one of Narasimha Rao’s biggest failures-- The Turbulent Years: 1980-96
“The inability to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid was one of PV’s (Narasimha Rao) biggest failures. He should have entrusted the task of tough negotiations with other political parties to a more senior and seasoned politician familiar with politics in UP --like ND Tiwari. Home Minister SB Chavan was an able negotiator but could not fully grasp the emotive aspects of the emerging situation. Rangarajan Kumaramangalam worked sincerely but was young, relatively inexperienced and a first-time Minister of State.”
How he became defence minister: The Coalition Years: 1996-2012
“Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh discussed likely ministers from the Congress . In that context, Sonia called me and asked which of the four portfolios (defence, home, external affairs and finance) I would prefer to take. Her inclination was for me to take up Finance. However, I told her that I would not like to be charged with Finance due to my ideological differences on economic policy with the Prime Minister-designate. I also told her that I would prefer Home over External Affairs—I had worked as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs for over six years and was conversant with the ministry — and that I had no experience in Defence. She heard me out, making no commitment, nor indicating a decision other than saying that Defence was a world in itself and the Defence Ministry would offer me maximum autonomy taking into account my seniority.”
On Manmohan Singh -- The Coalition Years: 1996-2012
“A strong nationalist, a man of courage and conviction, Manmohan Singh was certainly not an “accidental prime minister’. I am convinced that the future will judge Manmohan Singh in a different light as PV (Rao) is assessed today”
On Atal Bihari Vajpayee -- The Coalition Years: 1996-2012
“Vajpayee’s signature in politics was achieving consensus, and in the process he earned the respect of his party, allies and opponents at home. Abroad, he projected a harmonious image of India, and connected it to the world through his foreign policy outreach”
On Emergency- Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years- the first volume of his memoir“While there is no doubt that it brought with it some major positive changes…it was perhaps an avoidable event... some instances of the Emergency adversely affecting the interests of the people. Congress and Indira Gandhi had to pay a heavy price for this misadventure.”