- Pranab knew I had no choice or part in this decision: Manmohan Singh
- Pranab is a politician by choice and it comes naturally to him: Dr Singh
- They have worked together in various capacities since 1970
"Pranab knew I had no choice and any part in this decision," Dr Singh, 85, said.
He was speaking at the launch of President Mukherjee's new book, 'The Coalition Years: 1996-2012,' in Delhi.
In 2004, Sonia Gandhi, Congress chief, unexpectedly named Dr Singh as the new premier after the UPA or Congress-led coalition dislodged the BJP.
"He is a politician by choice and it comes naturally to him... I became a politician by accident," said Dr Singh, praising Mr Mukherjee who became President of the country in 2012.
But the former PM underlined how his elevation did not impact the relations between them.
They had worked together in various capacities since 1970. As finance minister back in the seventies, Mr Mukherjee was Dr Singh's boss too and later appointed him central bank governor too.
"He had a reason to feel upset but he respected me and we have a great relationship which will continue till we live," Dr Singh said.
As the PM who led the UPA's coalition government for a decade, Dr Singh recalled how he devised the concept of group of ministers and "invariably put him on the job".
"He had a knack to tackle issues," he said.
Pranab Mukherjee was widely expected to be the Congress choice for the Prime Minister's post after Sonia Gandhi declined to lead the government in 2004.
This is the first time, however, that a top Congress politician has spoken about it in public, and acknowledged the disappointment that Pranab Mukherjee must have felt.
In an interview to NDTV after being named the UPA's nominee for president back in 2012, Mr Mukherjee had insisted he didn't feel bad when he was overlooked for the PM's job because the party had given him a lot more than he had given to the party.
"Why should I regret? The party President has trusted me, has considered me capable of discharging certain responsibilities, by me alone. That is a great trust," Mr Mukherjee had said, recalling that he had been a minister for 22 years.