Kolkata: Although she felt "betrayed" by the
Congress leadership many a time, West Bengal Chief Minister
Mamata Banerjee describes the late Rajiv Gandhi as "the leader
of our hearts" and Pranab Mukherjee as her brother.
Recalling her days in the Congress when she was attacked
by alleged CPI(M) activists at a rally in 1991 in Kolkata, she
says, "Rajiv ji, the leader of our hearts, took up the
responsibility of paying for my treatment. He sent people to
ask if I wanted to go to the US for further treatment."
Even as Banerjee`s current relationship with ally
Congress has turned sour, she treats Union Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee as her elder brother.
"I have always respected him and my relationship with him
is that of an elder brother and his kid sister," she says
recalling that when Mukherjee was once sacked by the party and
formed the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress in 1986, she had
repeatedly requested Gandhi to take him back into the party
In her autobiographical account in the recently published
book `My Unforgettable Memories`, she says that on hearing the
news of Rajiv Gandhi`s assassination in 1991 she was so
shattered that she could neither eat nor speak to anybody for
a week after that.
"I was orphaned all over again, for the second time in
my life since my father`s death.....I used to shut myself in
the room and cry".
Even after two decades of Rajiv`s death, the firebrand
leader says she still feels his presence in every step she
takes as the charismatic Gandhi scion had touched a chord that
still plays the symphony of her life.
"Whenever I face a problem, whenever something upsets me,
unknowingly my eyes seek out Rajivji`s photograph on the wall
in my room," the chief minister says.
Banerjee says whenever it came to the former prime
minister she was always led by very strong sentiments and had
"special feelings" for his family.
She even goes on to say that it was the void created in
the party after Rajiv`s death which forced her exit from the
Congress leading to the foundation of Trinamool Congress.
"Unfortunately for us, after Rajiv Gandhi passed away,
there was no one in the party who could understand our
feelings, who could see where we were coming from. Unknown to
all of us, Trinamool`s message was tucked away in this
misfortune," she writes.
On her days as a Congress leader till 1997, Banerjee
says she often got upset with the behaviour of the party
"On the one hand, we were being routinely harassed and
tortured by the CPI(M) and the police, while on the other, we
were insulted by the party (Congress) leadership. Therefore,
we decided not to listen to the diktats from Delhi any
longer," Banerjee recalls.