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Updated December 6th, 2023 at 21:39 IST

She taught him diplomacy and to dress well: What Pranab Mukherjee's daughter said about his mentor

Pranab Mukherjee's daughter revealed Indira Gandhi's governance was the 'golden period' of his life and the former PM's assassination in 1984 hurt him deeply.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Pranab Mukherjee
Former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. | Image:PTI
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Former President Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee has her new book coming up in which she made surprising revelations about her father's public and private life. Titled "In Pranab, My Father: A Daughter Remembers," the book delves into the many experiences of the former President including the assassination of his mentor Indira Gandhi.

In an exclusive interview with Republic TV, Sharmistha revealed that being led by Indira Gandhi was the 'golden period' of his life and the former PM's assassination in 1984 hurt him deeply.

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Pranab Mukherjee and Indira Gandhi. Image: PTI

She also revealed that it was Indira Gandhi who taught her father the art of diplomacy and even how to dress well in public.

"She (Indira Gandhi) was a mentor to my father. He always maintained that that (Indira's governance) was the golden period of his life. He was the most trusted lieutenant of Indira Ji," Sharmistha told Republic.

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"Indira Ji taught him the art of politics, the art of diplomacy and how to dress up publicly. How to behave in Parliament. She taught him all the intricacies of public life," she further said.  

Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee. Image: Republic

When asked about traumatic experiences in his father later in the interview, she said, "Indira Ji's assassination was the most traumatic experience because she was truly a mentor to him. My father always remained Indira loyalist."

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Trust deficit with Gandhi family 

Pranab's relationship with the Gandhi family hit a wall after Indira's departure as Sharmistha revealed that there was a trust deficit later between her father and the Gandhi family led by Indira's successor and then PM Rajiv Gandhi.

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Notably, Pranab Mukherjee was dropped from the cabinet after Indira Gandhi's assassination and when Rajiv Gandhi took charge.

"There was one particular rumour that after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, he staked his claim to be the PM and it was assumed that all his future relationships with the Gandhis were seen through this prism. As per him, he never staked his claim. It was a rumour planted by people who were close to Rajiv Gandhi," Sharmistha said.

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"Also perhaps people around Rajiv advised that Pranab Babu might challenge Rajiv's authority. This might be the reason why he was dropped from the cabinet," she further said.

In her book, she also made the explosive revelation that her father never got to become the Prime Minister due to a trust deficit with then Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Sharmistha, however, said her father had a close relationship with Sonia as well.

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Pranab Mukherjee with Sonia Gandhi. Image: PTI

"He definitely had the desire to become the Prime Minister but he was also very sure about it and he accepted the fact that he is never going to become one," she told Republic.

"There was a trust deficit between the Rajiv (Gandhi) and perhaps Sonia and also he knew his limitations of not being a mass leader. He was a religious leader so he thought it was not in his destiny to become the Prime Minister," she further said.

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On Pranab's relationship with Rajiv's son and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, she said, "There cannot be any comparison between my father's relationship with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi."

Pranab Mukherjee with Rahul Gandhi. Image: X/@INCIndia

"I don't think my father had much of a relationship with Rahul Gandhi. Rahul came to my father's official residence and met him a few times and there are also very few references of Rahul's visit during his Presidential years," Sharmistha told Republic. 

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Published December 6th, 2023 at 21:39 IST

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