Sunday, March 3, 2024

Pranab’s scathing take on Rahul: ‘Arrogance of his lineage without political acumen’

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New Delhi, Dec 6 : ‘Pranab, My Father’ (Rupa), an explosive biography of the late 13th President of India and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee by his daughter Sharmishtha, reveals how he wrote in his diary that Rahul Gandhi has “all the arrogance of his Gandhi-Nehru lineage without their political acumen”. And that was not all that he had to say.

Mukherjee, who survived the machinations of Sanjay Gandhi, displeasure of Rajiv and the distrust of Sonia, to rise from the sidelines of West Bengal politics to the country’s most exalted office, noted his impressions of Rahul after he came to visit him at Rashtrapati Bhawan following the drubbing the Congress got in 2014.

In his comments that have great relevance today when the Nehru-Gandhi family stranglehold over the Congress is being questioned, Pranab, according to his daughter Sharmishtha, said that “he [Rahul] gave his views on the election performance of the party in a most detached way, from a distance as an outsider as if he was not the face of the campaign and the main campaigner of the party.”

And then, comparing him with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mukherjee noted in his diary (whose contents were hitherto not in the public domain): “Perhaps his distance from the party and a lack of killer instinct could be the reasons for his failure to enthuse the party workers to fight the election which the BJP got from Narendra Modi.”

These words have a contemporary ring about them in the light of the comments of political observers who are questioning the failure of Rahul and his sister, Priyanka Gandhi, to make any impression on the voters of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where they campaigned extensively for the just-concluded Assembly elections.

His daughter and biographer (who is a well-known classical dancer and has contested Delhi elections on a Congress ticket) writes: “He noted that some leaders ‘poured venom’ against Rahul and many senior leaders complained that Rahul was not meeting them.

“Pranab felt that some of the comments made by Rahul reflected his political immaturity. He was also disappointed by Rahul’s frequent disappearing acts. Pranab believed that serious politics is a 24×7, 365-day job.

“He personally did not believe in taking time off, and diligently attended all official and party events. He felt that Rahul’s frequent breaks, particularly during a crucial period for the party, were causing him to lose the perception battle.”

Rahul, Pranab Mukherjee once pointed out to his daughter, was conspicuously absent during the flag-raising ceremony at the AICC headquarters on the party’s 130th Foundation Day on

December 28, 2014, barely six months after the party’s devastating loss in the general elections.

“Pranab,” writes his daughter, “noted in his diary, ‘Rahul was not present at the AICC function. I don’t know the reason but many such incidents happened. As he got everything so easily, he does not value it. Soniaji is bent upon making her son the successor but the young man’s lack of charisma and political understanding is creating a problem. Can he revive the Congress? Can he inspire people? I do not know’.”

In a hilarious incident recounted by Sharmishtha, she writes that one morning, when her father was taking his usual morning walk in the Mughal Gardens (now Amrit Udyan), Rahul came to see him.

“Pranab disliked any interruptions during his morning walks and puja,” Sharmishtha writes. “Nevertheless, he decided to meet him. It turned out that Rahul was actually scheduled to meet Pranab later in the evening, but his [Rahul’s] office mistakenly informed him the meeting was in the morning.”

The daughter continues: “I came to know about the incident from one of the ADCs. When I asked my father, he commented sardonically, ‘If Rahul’s office can’t differentiate between ‘a.m.’ and ‘p.m.’ how do they hope to run the PMO one day?’ ” IANS

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