Sonia Gandhi declined to become Prime Minister in 2004 because of strong opposition from her son Rahul Gandhi who was afraid she would be killed like his father and grand mother if she accepted the post, former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh claimed on Wednesday.
Singh(83), an estranged Gandhi family friend who quit the Congress in 2008 after he had to resign from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-I Government in 2005 in the wake of the Iraqi food-for-oil scam, claimed that it was not Sonia's "inner voice" that prevented her, as she had stated at the time, to take up the PM's post.
To persuade him from not referring to this particular episode in his autobiography, the Congress president along with her daughter Priyanka Gandhi met him on May 7 at his residence but he decided to disclose facts as they were and tell the "truth", Singh claimed in an interview to a news channel.
The book titled "One Life is Not Enough: An Autobiography" is due to be released soon.
"Rahul was totally against her mother becoming Prime Minister. He said she would be killed like his father and grand mother and as a son he would not allow to become the PM.
He was very adamant," Singh said, recalling a May 18, 2004 meeting where Manmohan Singh, Gandhi family friend Suman Dubey, Priyanka and he were present. Manmohan Singh later went on to become the Prime Minister. Rahul's opposition was conveyed to them by Priyanka, he said.
"As a son full marks to Rahul," he said. Rahul was 34 years at that time.
Singh claimed that Sonia also said "sorry" to him at their May 7 meeting after he narrated how he was victimised by the UPA government and refused to believe her claim that she was not aware of it. "She said I did not not know (about treatment meted out to him). I said nobody will buy it because nothing happens in Congress without your knowledge, without your approval. Same is the case with government. She said I am sorry," he said, adding that the Congress President had also embraced him.
Singh endorsed the claim of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's media adviser Sanjaya Baru that important government files were taken to Sonia by Pulok Chatterjee, who was in PMO, saying any question of protest over this did not arise as she was the "foremost" leader.
He also disclosed that the then Vice President Shankar Dayal Sharma was Sonia's first choice as the Prime Minister in 1991 but Sharma, who then became President, declined the offer due to his poor health. It was then she chose PV Narasimha Rao whom she never knew and they could never share warm relations, he said.