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'Will Miss His Tantrums’: When Pranab Mukherjee Recalled Sonia Gandhi’s Farewell Speech for Him

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee with Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the  release commemorative publication of National Herald at  a  function in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee with Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the release commemorative publication of National Herald at a function in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)

The former President breathed his last on August 31 following an emergency surgery to remove a clot in his brain. Mukherjee had also tested positive for Covid-19 before the surgery.

“I will miss his tantrums”.

With these words Sonia Gandhi had bid Pranab Mukherjee an emotional farewell at a Congress Working Committee meeting in June 2012 when the career Congressman was formally approved as the UPA’s presidential nominee.

Years later, Mukherjee recalled Gandhi’s words in his book The Coalition Years, 1996-2012. "After briefing the meeting on the presidential election, Sonia Gandhi bid me an emotional farewell...Thereafter, with a mischievous smile she looked at me and said 'Along with that, of course, I will miss some of his tantrums'.” Mukherjee wrote in the book.

The former President breathed his last on August 31 following an emergency surgery to remove a clot in his brain. Mukherjee had also tested positive for Covid-19 before the surgery.

The Coalition Years was the former president's third political memoir, which gave several accounts of how UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi remained reluctant to approve his name for the country's top constitutional post despite often acknowledging that he was the "most suited" for the office.

Recalling the events in the run-up to the presidential elections in 2007 and 2012, Mukherjee had said the Congress chief told him that he could not be spared by the party on account of the "crucial role" he played for it in the UPA government and Parliament.

Narrating the sequence of the CWC meeting on June 25, 2012, at the 7 Race Course Road residence of the prime minister, Mukherjee had noted that Gandhi, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party office-bearers and chief ministers present finally gave him the green signal to run for the presidential office.

Mukherjee had said that prior to the meeting, he met Sonia Gandhi. "She told me frankly, 'Pranabji you are the most eminently suited for the office, but you should not forget the crucial role you are playing in the functioning of the government. Could you suggest an alternative?" Mukherjee recorded in the book, adding that he told Gandhi he would abide by whatever decision she took.

The ties between Mukherjee and the Gandhi family soured in 2018 when the former president delivered a speech at an RSS event in the outfit’s Nagpur headquarters. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were also notably absent when Mukherjee was conferred the Bharat Ratna by successor Ram Nath Kovind in August 2019.