Former president Pranab Mukherjee in his much-awaited autobiography ‘The Presidential Years’ mentioned that he would have ‘ensured’ Mamata Banerjee’s continuation in the UPA-II coalition if he had continued as finance minister.
In 2012, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee withdrew her support from the UPA-II as she wanted complete withdrawal of the decision on FDI, raising the cap on subsidised LPG from six to 12 cylinders and reduction of diesel hike.
Manmohan Singh was the Union Finance minister when Mamata withdrew her support from the UPA-II.
Highlighting his views on ‘leadership in times of crisis’, his autobiography reads, “I believe that the leadership of a party in times of crisis has to evolve a different approach. If I had continued in the government as finance minister, I would have ensured Mamata’s continuity in the coalition.”
Differentiating the tenure of UPA-I and UPA-II, he notes, “In fact, there is a big difference in the way the UPA-I and UPA-II coalitions were formed. In 2004, UPA-I would not have come into existence without the support of Left parties and the Samajwadi Party (SP). When the Left parties withdrew support, the Confidence Motion moved by Manmohan Singh survived in the Lok Sabha mainly with the support of the Samajwadi Party.”
“When UPA-II was formed, many of the earlier partners such as the Left, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] were not part of the coalition. Instead, Mamata Banerjee joined with 19 members of the Lok Sabha from the Trinamool Congress. But she also did not continue her support to the UPA-II for long. Even after having allied with the Congress in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009 and in the Assembly polls of 2011, she withdrew support from UPA-II in September 2012, despite being one of its important members,” it reads.
On Congress’s failure in 2014 Lok Sabha, Pranab Mukherjee claimed that some members of the Congress have theorized that, had he become the PM in 2004, the party might have averted the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing.
“Though I don’t subscribe to this view, I do believe that the party’s leadership lost political focus after my elevation as president. While Sonia Gandhi was unable to handle the affairs of the party, Dr Singh’s prolonged absence from the House put an end to any personal contact with other MPs. During my days in the Rajya Sabha, I managed to develop close links with several leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati,” Mukherjee notes in his autobiography.
While sharing more on his relations with other political leaders of different parties, he mentioned, “In fact, Mayawati’s personal affinity for me ensured her support during the presidential election, much to the chagrin of the SP supremo. Besides, some senior Congress leaders’ political naiveté and arrogance hurt the fortunes of the party further. Similarly, Maharashtra was handled badly, partly due to decisions taken by Sonia Gandhi. I would have brought back Shivraj Patil or Sushil Kumar Shinde, considering the dearth of a strong leader from the state, like Vilasrao Deshmukh. I don’t think I would have allowed the state of Telangana to be created.”