Never wanted to be prime minister in 1984: Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi : President Pranab Mukherjee reveals that he never wanted to be the prime minister after Indira Gandhi’s death, as several reports have suggested, as per the second part of his memoirs.

In his book “The Turbulent Years, 1980-1996” (Rupa) released on Thursday, he also writes that he was “shellshocked and flabbergasted” after being dropped from the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet in 1984.

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“Finally, many stories have been circulated that I aspired to be the interim Prime Minister, that I had staked claim and had to be persuaded otherwise,” Mukherjee writes clearing the air on the issue.

“…And that this created misgivings in Rajiv Gandhi’s mind. These stories are completely false and spiteful.”

He noted in the book that in the two months leading up to the elections of December 1984, he had Rajiv Gandhi’s “full trust”.

“My name had been included in his letter to President Zail Singh proposing the list of ministers he had wanted sworn in along with him on 31 October 1984.”

“On the morning of 31 December 1984, Rajiv was elected leader of the CPP at 11 a.m. in a meeting held in the Central Hall of Parliament. I chaired the meeting and stood next to him when he announced to the media that the swearing-in would be held at 3 p.m. Even then I was clueless about the manner in which the day would unfold.

“I kept waiting for the call. Being dropped from Rajiv’s Cabinet was not even peripherally in my mind. I had heard no rumours, nor had anyone in the party ever vaguely hinted at it. As it happened, P.V. Narasimha Rao, too, was on tenterhooks, calling me several times to check if I had received a call,” he writes.

“When I learnt of my ouster from the Cabinet, I was shellshocked and flabbergasted. I could not believe it. But I composed myself, and sat alongside my wife as she watched the swearing-in ceremony on television”.

Mukherjee writes as soon as the swearing in ceremony concluded, he wrote to the ministry of urban development asking to be allotted a smaller house in place of his 2 Jantar Mantar residence, a ministerial allocation.

“I then went off on a holiday with my family who had long suffered my neglect.”