Pranab Mukherjee

Even though I had joined congress just three years ago, Indira Gandhi had immense faith and confidence in me. Pranab Mukherjee lost in the 1980 elections. He was the Finance Minister in the previous government headed by Indira Gandhi. One day, he invited me to his house. Both Pranab and his wife, were sitting in the lawn. Pranab Mukherjee too had trust in me. After exchanging pleasantries, Mukherjee raised the topic of his defeat and his future. I said he can even become a Minister now. "But who will tell Indira Gandhi?" he asked. "I will," I promised.

After that, I went to Indira Gandhi's house and told her "Pranab Mukherjee is a capable man and a close confidant of yours. He has worked hard for the Party and your bye-election in Chikkamagaluru. You have to take him in the Ministry." "But he has lost the election," she said. "There have been instances in the past where you have made Ministers who had lost elections in the past. So why not now? Please induct Mukherjee." I requested. "I am thinking of making you as Deputy Minister. If Pranab has to be made minister, I have to give him Cabinet rank', She said. "Madam, don't make me Deputy Minister. It is possible for you to make Mr Pranab as Minister" I pleaded. Patting on my back, she said "OK. Go and tell him to get ready". I went to Mukherjee's house. "You will get a message from PMO soon. Be ready," I told him. Mukherjee affectionately held my hands and expressed his gratitude.

Cabinet was formed in a few days. I was not made Minister but Mukherjee got Commerce, Steel and Mining portfolio. He kept my help in his mind. I was included in one of the Standing Committees of his Ministry. In one of the meetings, Mukherjee said, "Poojary ji, I am going to give a gift to you." Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd., (KIOCL) at Mangaluru is that gift. When the Union Government decided to set up a Currency Printing Unit (Mint) in West Bengal with an estimated cost of Rs 720 crore, I requested Mukherjee to set up one unit in Karnataka. He immediately agreed and directed to split the project into two and announced one unit for Mysuru. That's how the Rs 360 Crores 'Mysore Notu Mudranalaya' came into existence.

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