FM takes out time to jot down impressions in diary

New Delhi: Witness to momentous events in post-independence India, veteran politician Pranab Mukherjee is jotting down a "truthful account" of happenings around him but these will be published only posthumously.

After over 50 years in public life, Mukherjee, widely seen as a potential Congress candidate for the post of President, has disclosed he was a keen diary writer.

But the Union Finance Minister has no no plans to publish his diaries in his lifetime.
"That job will be done my daughter," he told reporters here at a dinner last night, indicating that since the diaries were a truthful account of events as seen by an individual "it is always better that they be made public after the individual is no more".

Recalling the habit of his writing diaries, the chief trouble shooter of the UPA coalition had done away with the practice for some time in the late 80s when the basement of his Greater Kailash house in South Delhi had got flooded damaging several of his diaries as also books in his study there. He revived the practice in early nineties at the insistence of the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

After becoming PM, Rao had come to his residence to invite him to join the Planning Commission as the Deputy Chairman. He knew that Mukherjee had been maintaining a diary for years and asked him whether he continued to do so.

Mukherjee then had sought to ignore the query but his wife told Rao about the incident of flooding in the basement that led to the discontinuance.

Rao insisted that Mukherjee resume the practice and the next day sent a new diary as a gift to him.

The ministers smiled away suggestions from reporters at the dinner hosted by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal last night that he would get more than adequate time in Rashtrapati Bhavan to write a diary. "My simple answer to all these questions is wait and see," he said in response to questions on the next President of India.

The name of Mukherjee along with that of Vice President President Hamid Ansari is doing the rounds as possible Presidential candidates.The term of incumbent Pratibha Patil ends on July 25.

Mukherjee has been an avid reader too and finds times to read books. He is currently reading a book written by a US Ambassador to Berlin during the early years of the Second World War titled "In the garden of beasts- Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler`s Berlin" By Erik Larson.

It is based on the life of William E. Dodd who was an academic historian, living a quiet life in Chicago, when Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him US Ambassador to Germany.It was 1933, Hitler had just then been appointed chancellor, the world was about to change.

Larson has meticulously researched Dodds` intimate witness to Hitler`s ascendancy and created an edifying narrative of this historical byway that has all the pleasures of a political thriller. He is also reading a book by a Bengali scholar titled `Bengalnama`.

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