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Arjun ‘hurt’ when Sonia didn’t make him Prez
Published on 22 Mar. 2009 11:25 PM IST
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Congress chief Sonia Gandhi not making Arjun Singh the President of India in 2007 has “deeply hurt” his family including his wife Saroj, a book reveals. “What harm would have taken place to Madam (Gandhi) if she had made him President of India, the person who gave his all to the service of the family?” Saroj told Singh’s political biographer soon after Pratibha Patil was elected to the high office. Ram Sharan Joshi, known to be one of the journalists closest to the Congress veteran, says in the book that the party leadership ignored the contribution of Singh and made him neither the President nor the Prime Minister, not even No 2 in the party and the government. In ‘Arjun Singh -- Ek Sahayatri Itihas Ka’, a political biography in Hindi of the senior leader, Joshi finds a sense of hurt and disappointment in the words of Saroj when she talked to him after the Presidential poll. “Ab theek hai, jo ho gaya so ho gaya,” Arjun himself told the writer striking a philosophical note and consoling himself with the fact that whatever has happened, has happened. Joshi, however, maintains that the HRD Minister himself had a feeling of hurt deep inside that the leadership has not been just and fair to him. He claims that Singh was ignored despite his unqualified faith to the Nehru-Gandhi family and his help to Sonia Gandhi in becoming active in public life and organisation after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The nearly 500-page book, brought out by Raj Kamal Prakashan, will be released at a function here on March 27 by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. In the book, Joshi says that Singh had full hopes of being made the President. He feels that the veteran leader had a political as well as emotional blow in 2004 when Sonia made a non-political person the Prime Minister instead of him. But as a disciplined soldier Singh made peace with Gandhi as well as his destiny, the author writes. Joshi, who has held long conversations with Singh before writing the book, says that even the four Left parties were “favouring” Singh for the Presidentship and had given clear hints to the Congress leadership. But at the fag end of the selection process, there was once again betrayal of Singh and his name was not considered by giving the plea of his health, he says. A book release function held sometime after the Presidential poll in May last year had seen Singh ignoring the names of Sonia and Rahul as also Rajiv Gandhi in his speech, Joshi recalls. Joshi also quotes Singh as saying that the late Prime Minister, P V Narasimha Rao, “did not make any special effort to stop the demolition of the Babri Masjid”. “His (Rao’s) inclination was towards Hindutva. He did see some merit in Hindutva philosophy. He was in RSS and attended its training. Rao Saheb was always going by the pro-Hindutva agenda (as regards the issue of Babri Masjid),” Singh had told the author.

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