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A discordant Manmohan-Mukherjee duet

india Updated: Apr 12, 2014 08:54 IST
Prashant Jha
Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his former cabinet colleague, now President, Pranab Mukherjee, had a difficult working relationship even as the PM depended heavily on allies like Sharad Pawar and Lalu Prasad to back him during UPA 1. These are among some of the claims made by Singh's former media advisor, Sanjay Baru, in his new book, The Accidental Prime Minister —The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh.

Baru further claims that Mukherjee was never 'transparent' in either 'expressing his disagreement or support'. He writes that after returning from a visit to Washington DC in his capacity as foreign minister, Mukherjee 'chose not to brief the PM for three days', even though he had gone to see Sonia Gandhi. The PM told Baru he did not know what transpired in his meetings with US President and secretary of state.

Moreover, Mukherjee would also, Baru claims, 'forget' to brief the PM on meetings with the Left.

In 2009, Singh wanted C Rangarajan as the finance minister but Sonia Gandhi offered it to Mukherjee, without even consulting the PM. The book asserts that while Singh had a good working equation with P Chidambaram, who would sit with him while finalising the budget speech, Mukherjee 'would not even show him the draft' till he had finished writing it.

'In March 2012, he was not even aware till the day before the budget was to be presented' that Mukherjee would introduce a new corporate tax policy, 'with retrospective effect'.

Another leader who undermined Singh, according to the book, was the late HRD minister Arjun Singh.