The publication of late former President of India Pranab Mukherjee’s final volume of memoir became a flashpoint between his son Abhijit Mukherjee and daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee on Tuesday.
Abhijit Mukherjee, a former Lok Sabha member, objected to the publication and demanded to vet the manuscript before its release. However, hours later, Sharmishtha Mukherjee accused her brother of creating “unnecessary hurdles” and said no one should seek any “cheap publicity”.
The excerpts of the fourth volume of Pranab Mukherjee’s memoir The Presidential Years was shared by the publisher, Rupa, on December 11. The book is scheduled to be released in January.
In this first-person account, Mukherjee holds Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responsible for the party’s devastating loss in the 2014 General Election. According to the excerpts, he had said that many Congress member believed that the polls may have been different if he were the prime minister. “I do believe that the party’s leadership lost political focus after my elevation as president,” the Congress leader wrote.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Abhijit Mukherjee said that “motivated excerpts” were circulating in “certain media platforms” without his consent. Tagging publisher Rupa, Mukherjee wrote: “I, the son of the author of the Memoir ‘The Presidential Memoirs’ request you to kindly stop the publication of the memoir.”
The former Congress MP corrected the error in the book’s title in his tweet, which was also pointed out by Sharmishtha Mukherjee later.
“Since my father is no more, I being his son want to go through the contents of the final copy of the book before it’s publication as I believe, had my father been alive today, he too would have done the same,” Abhijit Mukherjee added. “Therefore, I being his son 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.”
Pranab Mukherjee, who was a senior minister in the United Progressive Alliance government and India’s president between 2012 and 2017, died in August due to post-coronavirus complications.
Sharmistha Mukherjee, who had earlier tweeted excerpts of the final volume, said her father completed the manuscript before he fell sick. “The final draft contains my dads’ hand written notes and comments that have been strictly adhered to,” she wrote. “The views expressed by him are his own and no one should try to stop it from being published for any cheap publicity. That would be the greatest disservice to our departed father.”
Senior Congress leaders have dismissed the criticial points of the memoir, saying it’s premature to comment without reading it fully, according to PTI. “When somebody with such vast experience writes something, it’s generally something you need to read in full to understand what is the context,” former Union minister Salman Khurshid had said.