While Mukherjee later mentioned in his autobiography that his meeting with Thackeray had riled Sonia Gandhi, the late Sena patriarch said it was but natural for the "Maratha tiger to support the Royal Bengal tiger."
In the third volume of his autobiography, "Coalition Years: 1996-2012", Mukherjee mentioned that Gandhi was upset with him for meeting Thackeray.
Mukherjee said NCP chief Sharad Pawar, a coalition partner of the then UPA-II government, had insisted that he meet Thackeray.
The Congress now shares power with the Sena and NCP in Maharashtra.
Mukherjee met Thackeray, who had unilaterally extended support to his candidature in the presidential bid, and had made elaborate arrangements for welcoming the Congress veteran to Matoshree, the Thackeray family residence in Bandra.
In his autobiography, Mukherjee, who died on Monday at 84, recalled that his visit to Mumbai on July 13, 2012 was significant as Thackeray, whose party was then a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, had, without being asked to, extended support to his candidature, which was completely unexpected.
"I had asked both Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar -- who was instrumental, I think, in influencing Thackeray towards me -- whether I should meet Thackeray during my visit to Mumbai. I had received several messages from him for an interaction at his residence. Sonia Gandhi was not enthusiastic about my meeting Bal Thackeray and (wanted to) avoid it, if possible. Sonia Gandhi''s reservations about Thackeray were based on her own perception of his policies," he wrote.
Mukherjee said Pawar insisted that he meet Thackeray, saying the Sena founder was waiting to receive him at his residence and had made elaborate arrangements for the visit.
"Pawar added that Thackeray would consider it a personal insult if I did not meet him during my visit to Mumbai. I took a decision to meet Thackeray despite Sonia Gandhi''s disapproval because I felt that the man who had broken away from his traditional coalition partner to support my candidature should not feel humiliated. I requested Sharad Pawar to take me to Thackeray''s residence from the airport, and he readily agreed to do so," Mukherjee wrote.
He described his meeting with Thackeray as "very cordial" during which the Sena supremo jokingly said that it was "but natural for the Maratha tiger to support the Royal Bengal tiger."
Mukherjee said he had known Thackeray as a politician with a sectarian approach, but could not ignore the fact that he had gone out of the way to support his candidature.
The former President wrote that Shiv Sena''s support to his predecessor Pratibha Patil in 2007 could still be explained because she was from Maharashtra.
Mukherjee recalled Thackeray telling him that he found him "distinctly different" from other Congress politicians.
He said when he returned to Delhi the next day, he was informed that Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary, Ahmed Patel, were upset about his meeting with Thackeray. PTI VT VT VT
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI