Recollecting a conversation with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the former President pointed out that though Sonia admitted that Dr Manmohan Singh was the most suitable to be the President, she had reminded him of the crucial role he was playing in the functioning of the government and how he was needed there. "But he also knows that I had no choice in the matter", Dr. Singh remarked, evoking laughter.
Mukherjee recalled how, barring a few years in between, the Congress pulled on its own strength before the coalition era came in 1996 when Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister followed by I.K. Gujral and then NDA led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar here on Thursday presented to former President Pranab Mukherjee an anthology of his convocation addresses as the Head of State.
Singh also said that he became a politician by accident, while Mukherjee "is a politician by choice". Pranab ji was the most distinguished colleague that I had. She made way for Manmohan Singh as India's prime minister when the Congress-led UPA won the Lok Sabha polls of 2004.
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"The prevalent expectation was that I would be the next choice for prime minister after Sonia Gandhi declined".
Mukherjee said in the book he has described the coalition years and tried not to bring in any personal matters. Mr Mukherjee praised Dr Singh for successfully running a coalition government.
"Therefore that smoothened our relationship".
"So before the elections, we have got this book on coalition governments which may come handy", he said. Mrs Gandhi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were also part of the audience.