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    Published On : Thu, Oct 22nd, 2015
    National News | By Nagpur Today Nagpur News

    Pranab Mukherjee was to become Prime Minister in 1990, but Rajiv supported Chandra Shekhar

    Pranab Mukherjee
    New Delhi/ Nagpur: Former President of India late R Venkataraman was inclined to Pranab Mukherjee to be the Prime Minister of India after the fall of V P Singh government in 1990 but Rajiv Gandhi was preferred, reveals the book entitled, The Chinar Leaves, written by veteran Congress leader and close aide of the Gandhi family M L Fotedar, who claims that when he met President Venkataraman to discuss the political situation in the wake of VP Singh’s resignation in 1990, the President told him emphatically that Rajiv should support Mukherjee.

    The Harper Collins publication, due for release soon, also highlights how Mukherjee along with PV Narasimha Rao and Venkataraman were once considered by Indira Gandhi as those who could take over the Congress party after her until of course, she decided to bring her son Rajiv into politics as her political heir.

    Fotedar, currently member of the Congress Working Committee, writes that then President Venkatraman’s personal choice for the PM’s position left him surprised and he took time to recover his poise to ask the President, “Sir, how can that be done?”. Hearing this, the President said again with an aura of authority that he should inform Rajiv about his choice.

    “I came back and reported the developments to Rajivji, who was also astounded by RV’s stand. The Congress party was running out of options and Rajivji ultimately took the controversial decision of supporting Chandra Shekhar from outside,” Fotedar recalls in his book.

    He adds that Chandra Shekhar, the former ‘Young Turk’ who had waited in the wings to become the country’s Prime Minister for nearly a decade, “jumped at the opportunity and took over the reins of power”.

    The book also highlights how Mukherjee was made the Presidential candidate of the Congress by consensus to avoid a tricky and embarrassing situation for the party amid talks of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name cropping up with Mamata Banerjee suggesting it.

    Talking about Sonia naming Manmohan Singh as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate after the Vajpayee government fell, Fotedar says, “many within the party got to know that Soniaji’s first preference was Dr Singh. This irked some of the ambitious leaders, and Madhav Rao Scindia, who had prime ministerial ambitions, used his friend Amar Singh to make Mulayam Singh Yadav change his mind about supporting the Congress-led coalition government.”

    On ManmohanSingh, the Sikh Congress man picked for PM’s post, Fotedar says the choice reflected the “astute political mind” of Sonia Gandhi since Singh had no political base and could never become a threat to her leadership. He also belonged to the Sikh community which had been extremely hostile to the Gandhi family because of Operation Blue Star and subsequently the riots following Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

    “It was Soniaji’s way of extending the olive branch for the sake of the security of her children,” he said. Fotedar has been Indira Gandhi’s former political secretary who rose to become a union minister. He is a senior member of Congress Working Committee.

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