Pranab Mukherjee was more qualified to become Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh

HRD Minister presents to ex-President anthology of his convocation addresses

When Mr. Yechury described Pranab Da, as he fondly called the former President, as a "man with an elephant's memory", Congress president Sonia Gandhi sitting in the front row of the audience corrected it to "two elephants' memory".

"He is a politician by choice and it comes naturally to him". While speaking at the event, Singh said, "Pranab Mukherjee is a politician by choice and he is one of the greatest politicians living in our country".

"Then came 2004 when Soniaji chose me as the Prime Minister and Pranabji was the most distinguished colleague that I had. I became a politician by accident when PV Narasimha Rao invited me to become Finance Minister".

Speaking at the launch of Mukherjee's new book, 'The Coalition Years: 1996-2012, ' in Delhi, Singh said the former president had every reason for grievance at being ignored for prime ministership.

"The prevalent expectation was that I would be the next choice for prime minister after Sonia Gandhi declined". He said Pranab Mukherjee knew that neither he (Manmohan Singh) had the choice or any part in the decision.

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He appreciated the idea of the publishers to get the book unveiled in the presence of major coalition partners of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that ruled from 2004 to 2014 under the premiership of Manmohan Singh.

"It was hard to have one coalition within and another outside".

The book, published by the National Book Trust, will be circulated to various higher learning institutes in the country, an official statement said.

"He had a reason to feel upset but he respected me and we have a great relationship which will continue till we live", Dr Singh said. "We ran the government as a cohesive team of which Pranab Mukherjee was the most important member", he reminisced. "I became a politician by accident".

He also said people look forward to another coalition as elections draw closer.

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