Don't write off Congress, 132-year-old party will bounce back, says Pranab Mukherjee
New Delhi, Oct 14: On Friday evening, the Congress leaders were at their candid best, going by the bytes that they gave to the media and speeches at the highly watched event in the national capital where former President Pranab Mukherjee released his new book, the third volume of his autobiography, The Coalition Years: 1996-2012.
While Congress president Sonia Gandhi told NDTV that her son Rahul will take over as the party chief soon, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his address at the book launch function said that Mukherjee was more qualified to become PM than him back in 2004.
The veteran Congress leader, Mukherjee, in an exclusive interview to India Today stated not to "write off the Congress". "Don't write off the Congress...the 132-year-old party will bounce back," Mukherjee said.
The former President and Union minister's comment has come at a time when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre is facing severe criticism over the crisis that has hit the Indian economy.
Moreover, the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are going for the Assembly elections in the next two months and the next General elections are due in the early part of 2019.
Regarding the Congress' humiliating loss during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mukherjee told India Today, "We managed the coalition of UPA-I exceedingly well. It was much more cohesive. We could deliver good governance. But in UPA-II, the coalition did not do so."
Mukherjee added: "One reason for the Congress downfall was that it thought that the 200 seats it won were equal to 280 seats. So the flexibility of mind and flexibility to accept others' views was restricted.
"Secondly, in terms of the coalition, Mamata Banerjee departed in 2012. It was very difficult to handle her, no doubt, but at the same time we had to handle her because she had 19 Lok Sabha members, a big partner."
The seasoned Congress leader admitted during the interview that "even Congress' own intelligence from the ground was misleading".
"Although Sonia and Manmohan hinted the situation was critical, Congress leaders, who met me, assessed that they would get 160-170 seats and gave the BJP around 180. Surprisingly, Piyush Goyal told me that the BJP was not going to get less than 260 and he was nearest to the mark."