An open letter to Shri Pranab Mukherjee

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An open letter to Shri Pranab Mukherjee


This is an open letter to Shri Pranab Mukherjee, former President of India.

Respected Sir,

Please excuse this ordinary citizen of India for writing an open letter to a former First Citizen of the country.

Sir, like millions of Indians, I have always been enlightened by your words of wisdom. You have been very forthright in sharing your thoughts with public, though sometimes, I find your words beyond my comprehension. That is my fault. Permit me to give a few examples.

I can never forget your memorable speech about late Sanjay Gandhi who was widely perceived as Indira Gandhi’s successor but the cruel fate snatched him away from us. Sometime in one evening of December 1982 or 1983, at a function organised at Vithal Bhai Patel House, just behind the Reserve Bank of India building on Parliament Street, to celebrate Sanjay Gandhi’s birthday, paying glowing tributes to the departed soul, you had said, ‘Sanjay was a great management expert’. I was present there as an onlooker. What you said was a news to me. Yes, Sanjay was the first Indian to dream of a completely indigenous car manufacturing plant to produce “people’s car”. He laid the foundation of his dream project in a garage in Gurgaon. Unfortunately, he had no knowledge of how to convert the dream into a reality. His mother expected the Planning Commission to support his project but D. R Gadgil and R. Venkatraman, the then Deputy Chairman and Member, respectively, of the Commission in 1971, rejected the proposal. The Maruti Limited went into liquidation in 1977.


On May 13, 2017, still President of India, you participated in a function of the Congress party on the occasion of the release of a book, India’s Indira – A Centennial Tribute, compiled by the  Congress party. Addressing a galaxy of senior Congress leaders on the occasion, you gave another memorable speech (which I read in newspapers) that Indira Gandhi “was one of the remarkable personalities of the 20th century all over the world and to the people of India, even today after her passing away, she is the most acceptable ruler or prime minister of a democratic country.” No doubt, she was “remarkable” because there was something in her character that is not common but do the majority of the Indians really believe that she was most acceptable ruler or prime minister of a democratic country? People remember her more for imposing her personal rule (Emergency) in the name of saving the country when she put almost all her opponents in jails. She had misused the constitutional provisions and the President of the Republic to impose Emergency to save herself, not the country.

You described her as a bold later and recalled several of her ‘bold decisions taken in the interest of the country’ including decision to ‘cleanse Golden Temple of militants’. However, can we forget that Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was her creation?

Sir, as an officer in the Government of India, I had personally seen and heard from most reliable sources how she often worked against the country’s interest and showed scant regard for democratic institutions. She had agreed to take useless Westland helicopters from Britain, though the deal was finalised by her son, Rajeev Gandhi. We all know how disastrous it proved. Perhaps, I am one of the few living persons who know how she forced D. R Gadgil and R. Venkatraman the Planning Commission to quit for their audacity to oppose Sanjay Gandhi’s car project. (I was told the inside story by a close elderly friend who was eyewitness to whatever had happened in Yojna Bhawan.)

Incidentally, you used the book release function (a purely Congress party function function) to indirectly advise your former party colleagues how to revive the Congress.

Sir, very recently, on October 12 last, in an exclusive interview to the India Today Group Editorial Director, you said (categorically, according to a media report) that you did not feel disappointed when Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan Singh over you for the post of Prime Minister. In your own words, “Not disappointed, because I considered myself disqualified from ever being the Prime Minister of India.” Among the reasons, you mentioned your being member of Rajya Sabha for the most part of your career before 2004 and your lack of knowledge of Hindi. (But Dr Manmohan Singh has always been a member of Rajya Sabha.)

Sir, may I humbly remind you of what you have written in the third volume of your autobiography, The Coalition Years, 1996-2012? You have written that on June 2, 2012, you had a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi “and I returned (from the meeting) with a vague impression that she might wish to consider Manmohan Singh as the UPA presidential nominee. I thought that if she selected Singh for the presidential office, she may choose me as the prime minister. I had heard a rumour that she had given this formulation serious thought while on a holiday in the Kaushambi Hills.”

I leave it to the readers to compare what you have written in your autobiography with what you have stated in an interview on October 12, 2070 and draw their own conclusion.

Sir, you concluded the interview with a remark that has been interpreted as a tip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on diplomacy. You said, “I have always believed war no solution. Armed intervention is no solution. The only solution is to talk, dialogue, and nothing beyond that, when it comes to Pakistan and China.”

I wish, you had said that Prime Minister Modi tried his level best to engage Pakistan in dialogue. He invited Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, to his oath taking ceremony. In December 2015, he made a surprise visit to Lahore to meet Nawaz Sharif. Soon Modi realised that no dialogue with Pakistan to resolve differences was possible. The real problem is, whom to talk to?  The Prime Minister of Pakistan is not as effective as Prime Minister of any democracy is because the Pakistani army and the ISI are more powerful. In addition, there are numerous powerful militant groups in Pakistan, which thrive on their ‘destroy India’ mission.   We have reached a stage when it is just impossible to solve the Kashmir issue and stop daily violation of ceasefire by Pakistan through dialogue.

Sir, your words on diplomacy may sound very noble and maybe appreciated by those who have soft corner for the separatists and militants but you have not given any workable solution to the problem. As an experienced minister for years, you should know that diplomacy with Pakistan will not work.  Diplomacy being ineffective, Modi is resorting to what any serious minded Prime Minister sshould do i.e. deal with the intruders with an iron hand and make the Kashmiri separatists ineffective by stopping the supply of money from Pakistan and putting them in jail for violation of the law of the land. If you have any concrete suggestion, please come forward with that.

Perhaps, dialogue is possible with China. Despite all the tensions on borders, there has been no exchange of fire and diplomatic pressure has often worked.

Before concluding this letter, one humble question. Sir, do you propose to conduct yourself as a former President of India or as a leader of the Congress Party? By telling the nation that “Don’t write off Congress… The 132-year old party will bounce back” you have probably chosen to act as a Congress leader. Is it not unbecoming of a former President who is expected to be above party politics?

With kind regards and best wishes for a long healthy life.

Yours faithfully

Devendra Narain

October 14, 2017


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  1. Aurobindo Banerjee 1 year ago

    Thank you for this write-up, making me a travel down the memory lane!

    I was the ITO (Central Circle, Delhi) who was assigned the cases of the three Maruti companies (Maruti Ltd., Maruti Technical Services Pvt. Ltd. and Maruti Heavy Vehicles Ltd.), Mrs. Gandhi’s family members and Dhirendra Brahmachari and his Ashrams during the Janata rule (1977-80, until my promotion as IAC (Central)-almost coinciding with Indira Gandhi’s return to power). I happen to know the inside story of the huge state-backed fraud of making an indigenous small car, as I thoroughly investigated the matter inter alia by summoning and examining on oath the German technical advisor (Consultant), WHF Muller, a very honest person. [He left India shortly after I recorded his deposition and CBI, the Shah Commission and the Maruti Commission to rely on the only statement on oath that I had recorded.]

    The details of my findings in the cases of Maruti Ltd., Maruti Technical Services Ltd. and Maruti Heavy Vehicles Ltd. are available in the relevant parts of the reports of the Maruti Commission and also of the Shah Commission–both proscribed in 1980 immediately after the return of Indira Gandhi to power. I have always wondered at the total apathy of the present govt to the findings of these two Commissions and its reluctance to reprint their reports. [The Shah Commission Report was reprinted about ten years bin 2011 by the private efforts of certain persons, including Era Sezhiyan. See:Shah Commission Report: Lost and Regained-Era Sezhiyan Edition : I appeared before both these Commissions as a witness. The reports of the Commissions are still most relevant for the Govt and the bureaucracy.
    I had a rather unsavoury sad experience (at a very early stage of my career) of the former President’s style of functioning in 1974-75, again as ITO (Central Circle), Delhi, in connection with the investigation of the cases of a very big family-group of steel pipe making companies (which has become one of the largest and most influential players in the steel industry in the country). In one of the cases of this group, in which investigations had already unearthed documentary evidence of unaccounted/undeclared production/sales/income, the main person started non-cooperation and non-compliance with statutory notices on the ground of having made an application to the CBDT for transfer of the case from Delhi to the south.
    My investigations were almost complete (as very valuable documents had been seized in the country-wide searches (June, 1974) in this group and further evidence collected in the course of assessment proceedings). When the comments of the ITO were called for as per the practice, the request for transfer was opposed vehemently by me. It was at this stage that the said main person in this case came and threatened me that he would get his case transferred from me through the MoS (F)-the former President.
    Within fifteen days of the submission of my report/comments, objecting (with evidentiary support) to the proposal for transfer of jurisdiction of the case from Delhi (Central Circles), CBDT’s order came ordering the transfer of jurisdiction over the case from Delhi (Central Circles).
    By the by, while the investigation into this pipe-manufacturing group was almost complete and assessment proceedings underway, the VDS, 1975 was announced giving an opportunity to the assessees covered by searches to disclose all their undisclosed income, etc., and obtain certain benefits. ITOs were ordered to finalise all the assessments with reference to the seized documents and investigations made during and after the searches, having regard to the disclosures made under the VDS, by the 31st March, 1975. I had the satisfaction of obtaining the highest disclosure made under the VDS, 1975 by a company in India-by a company of this group.

    • Devendra Narain 9 months ago

      Thanks for appreciation. Thanks for sharing your own experience.

      Posted from website

  2. T.vijaya kumar 1 year ago

    Just he has acted as a ‘Congress President of India’s. There are so many people in the country who feel their party/religion to be put before the country and this man puts party before the country.

    • Devendra Narain 9 months ago

      Thanks for appreciation.

      Posted from website


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