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Life after presidency: No going back to politics, says Pranab Mukherjee

Former President focusses on writing his book, set to release in October

india Updated: Aug 27, 2017 15:42 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pranab mukherjee,president,10 rajaji marg
President Pranab Mukherjee has moved into 10 Rajaji Marg after leaving the Rashtrapati Bhavan last month.(PTI file photo)

There’s a life after Rashtrapati Bhavan and Pranab Mukherjee, the former head of the state, wants to live it to the fullest.

The new chapter began last month, when he moved into the 10 Rajaji Marg, where — away from strict protocols and official work — the former President now leads a more relaxed life.

In an informal chat at his residence, Mukherjee says that he has no plans to go back to politics, denying speculation that he may take up advisory roles.

“The question doesn’t arise... It took me some time to get completely detached from following the country’s political progress. And, now I have no intention to get attached again,” he says, while glancing at Doordarshan news playing on a small TV nearby.

To be sure though, politicians have not left the former President alone yet. Since he shifted, a slew of ministers and opposition leaders have visited him. Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goel, Kalraj Mishra, Ravi Shankar Prasad have come by for what Mukherjee terms as courtesy calls. Finance minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to meet him in a day or two.

And while the protocol leaves little room for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a similar visit, the two can always talk over phone.

From the Opposition side, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad were among those who visited the former President.

“There is never a vacuum in a political system. When I was inside the system, it was a different matter. But after I got out, there’s no way to return,” he said.

In a lighter vein, Mukherjee adds: “I don’t even understand what these people say nowadays.”

The former Congress leader is currently busy finishing a book that comes out in October.

An imminent problem, additionally, is something different: how to tackle 50-60 monkeys that regularly visit his residence in the morning.

“Monkey problem is nothing new for me. In my 13, Talkatora bungalow, they used to eat the home-grown vegetables. When I was in the finance ministry, a baby monkey used to come regularly, and I fed him peanuts.”

In this quiet corner of Lutyens’ Delhi, Mukherjee’s days are now filled with books that help indulge his razor sharp memory. A memory that makes him share nuggets like these: “Remember, in 1957 assembly elections, a candidate ate up two ballot papers after he was defeated by one vote in the first counting—and secured a victory!”.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 15:41 IST