Prime News, National (New Delhi), October 14:- The Congress under the late Sitaram Kesri pulled down I.K. Gujral’s United Front government in 1997 for his refusal to drop the DMK from his cabinet because of Kesri’s personal ambition to become Prime Minister, former President Pranab Mukherjee suggests in his latest book.
“So why did the Congress withdraw support? What did Kesri mean by his oft repeated comment ‘Mere paas waqt nahi hai’ (I have no time)? Many Congress leaders interpreted as his ambition to become Prime Minister.
“He tried to exploit the overarching anti-BJP sentiment while simultaneously undermining the United Front Government with the aim of thrusting himself as the head of a non-BJP government,” Mukherjee says in his latest of the trilogy ‘The Coalition Years: 1996-2012’. The first two voluimes of his autobiography dealt with the Indira Gandhi era and the turbulent decade post-Indira.
The demand for withdrawal of support to the I.K. Gujral government under the United Front came after the preliminary report of the Jain Commission — set up to investigate Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in Sriperumbudur in May 1991 by the LTTE — gave its report in August 1997.
The interim report of the Commission suggested that the DMK and its leadership had been involved in encouraging LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran and his followers. While the report did not refer to nay particular leader or involvement of any political party in the conspiracy, it was a problematic situation for the UF government in which the DMK was a constituent and had members. The Congress was supporting the government from outside.
Mukherjee recalls that the Winter Session of Parliament in 1997 witnessed hectic parleys in an attempt to defuse the crisis. Congress leaders including Kesri, Jitendra Prasada, Arjun Singh, Sharad Pawar and Mukherjee were invited by Gujral for dinner at his official residence. The Prime Minister said there was no direct evidence of the involvement of any particular leader of the DMK, let alone any minister. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).