The book, due for publication early next year, is part four of Mukherjee’s memoirs, the first of which was published in 2014, when he was still at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. (HT Photo)
The book, due for publication early next year, is part four of Mukherjee’s memoirs, the first of which was published in 2014, when he was still at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. (HT Photo)

Pranab Mukherjee’s son does not want his book published. Daughter disagrees

Referring to the excerpts of the book that were released on Friday, Abhijit Mukherjee said they were “motivated” and the former President would not have approved of them. Daughter Sharmishta however ashed her brother not to create any unnecessary hurdles.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Sunetra Choudhury
UPDATED ON DEC 15, 2020 08:58 PM IST

Days after publishing house Rupa announced the launch next year of late President Pranab Mukherjee’s final volume of memoirs, a difference of opinion seems to have emerged between his children. His son and former Lok Sabha member Abhijit Mukherjee has demanded that the publication be stopped until he approves the final manuscript. His daughter and Congress spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee took to Twitter to declare that not only was the book approved by their father but that Abhijeet should refrain from “cheap publicity”.

It all began on Tuesday afternoon when the former MP from Bengal addressed a series of tweets to the publisher of Rupa Books Kapish Mehra. Referring to the excerpts of the book that were released on Friday, Mukherjee said they were “motivated” and the former President would not have approved of them.

Hindustan Times reached out to executives at the publishing house, but they declined to comment publicly on the matter for now. On condition of anonymity, one executive told Hindustan Times that President Mukherjee had approved not just the final draft of the manuscript, but also the cover design a day before he was admitted to hospital.

Watch l Pranab Mukherjee’s son & daughter spar over former President’s memoir 

Mukherjee was admitted to hospital on August 10 for a surgery to remove a clot in his brain after he fell down at his Rajaji Marg residence in Delhi. A former Congress politician who served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017, he also tested positive for at the same time. Mukherjee died on August 31 at the age of 84.

Rupa had released some excerpts of The Presidential Years on Friday, in which he blames Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the party’s devastating loss in the 2014 general elections. In the book, he also writes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi employed an autocratic style of governance during his first term in power.

“While Dr Singh was preoccupied with saving the coalition, which took a toll on governance, Modi seemed to have employed a rather autocratic style of governance during his first term, as seen by the bitter relationship among the government, the legislature and the judiciary,” he wrote in the book, according to the released excerpts. “Only time will tell if there is a better understanding on such matters in the second term of this government.”

In his tweets on Tuesday, Abhijit Mukherjee addressed publisher Kapish Mehra to say: “Since my father is no more, I being his son want to go through the contents of the final copy of the book before its publication as I believe, had my father been alive today, he too would have done the same. He added “request you to immediately stop its publication without my written consent till I go through its contents ! I have already sent you a detailed letter in this regard which will reach you soon”.

Even before Rupa had worked out how to respond to this, Pranab’s daughter countered her brother’s attempt to suppress the publication. “I, daughter of the author of the memoir ‘The Presidential Years’, request my brother @ABHIJIT_LS not to create any unnecessary hurdles in publication of the last book written by our father. He completed the manuscript before he fell sick. The final draft contains my dads’ hand written notes & comments that have been strictly adhered to. The views expressed by him are his own & no one should try to stop it from being published for any cheap publicity. That would be the greatest disservice to our departed father,” she wrote.

“Btw bro, the title of the book is ‘The Presidential Years’, not ‘The Presidential Memoirs’,’’ she concluded.

A former official of Rashtrapati Bhawan who interacted with both during his presidency said the siblings shared “a difficult relationship’’. In the past too, Sharmistha has not been afraid to criticise her brother when he dismissed women protesters of the December 2012 gangrape as “dented and painted’’. While Sharmishtha stayed with her father in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Abhijit would visit, said the aide.

The book, due for publication early next year, is part four of Mukherjee’s memoirs, the first of which was published in 2014, when he was still at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The executive quoted above said the former President had first signed an agreement with Rupa in 2013. The latest book contract was signed in 2018, he said, adding: “Mr Abhijit Mukherjee was nowhere in the picture.”

An official who worked with the former President confirmed to Hindustan Times that Mukherjee had approved the latest volume’s publication. He confirmed that Sharmishta was much more aware about the contents of the book than her brother, the official said.

The Congress Party said that this issue had nothing to do with the party.

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