Should Indian Prime Minister or Finance Minister meet industrialists individually?
President Pranab Mukherjee has posed this question in his just released autobiography.He has answered the question himself by stating that his meetings with industrialists, individually or collectively, were very important.
This, the President said, is what he had followed during his tenure as Finance Minister and Commerce Minister unlike V P Singh who was “adamant” about not having any one-on-one meetings with industrialists.
Mentioning about the period between 1998 and 1991, which was marked by social and political turmoil in the country, Mukherjee cited differences in approach between him and V P Singh, who was appointed as Finance Minister under the Rajiv Gandhi government.
“For instance, as Finance Minister, he was adamant about not having any one-on-one meetings with industrialists. My view—which I followed during my tenures as the Finance and Commerce Ministers—was that meetings with industrialists, individually or collectively, were very important to get an overall understanding of specific contexts.
“In other words, how can a Finance Minister or Prime Minister not meet industrialists?,” the President asked in the memoir—“The Turbulent Years- 1980-1996”.
On much talked about differences between Manmohan Singh and him, Mukherjee said he had no role in Singh’s exit as RBI Governor. He, however, said the differences between him and central bank head were nothing more than legitimate exchanges of opinion over professional matters.
“I never saw my differences with Dr Singh, on the rare occasions they occurred, as anything other than legitimate exchanges of opinion over professional matters.
“Let me add that, contrary to conjecture in some quarters, I had absolutely no role in Dr Manmohan Singh’s departure from the RBI,” the President said.
Mukherjee said the relationship between the Finance Minister and the Governor of RBI is complex and it is impossible that they be of one mind on all issues.
Singh was RBI Governor between September 16, 1982 and January 14, 1985. Mukherjee was Finance Minister from January 1982 to December 1984.