Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, in a new book, has expressed his belief that the Grand Old Party could have won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, if Pranab Mukherjee was made prime minister.
In the tome, "The Other Side of the Mountain", which is described as a concise biography not of one person but of the many who were part of the UPA, Khurshid says that Manmohan Singh's premiership in 2004 came as a surprise to the Congress and outsiders as well.
"It's always easy to be wise after the worst has happened. We must not forget the whole nation had applauded Dr Manmohan Singh as the game-changer finance minister during the Narasimha Rao regime (June 1991 to May 1996)," Khurshid writes in the book.
"But when Dr Singh contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from what was thought to be the safest seat in the country for him, South Delhi, he was defeated by a candidate whose name many would scarce recall (It was Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP)," he added.
However, the former union minister clarified that Sonia Gandhi's decision to select Manmohan to head the UPA-I was "proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later (in 2009), when we were returned to power with a greater majority."
But he adds that after the 2014 Lok Sabha poll results were declared, the UPA ministers were more like shadows of the past and that currently the Grand Old Party is facing an existential crisis.
"Some people label it as 'leadership in crisis'; others believe it is about political content that the country has outgrown; and yet others have the stock explanation of being out of touch with the grassroots," he wrote.
However, Khurshid establishes that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are popularly endorsed and elected leaders and there is no one even remotely equipped to provide alternative leadership, reported PTI.
He recalled how allegations of scams like the 2G spectrum, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Coalgate had tarnished the image of the UPA-II, saying that a wrong decision was enough to trigger presumptions about the government being corrupt.
"But in all the charges that were made and investigated by various law-enforcement agencies, there was not a whisper of money exchanging hands or any disproportionate assets found in the possession of the accused politician or the civil servant accused of misdemeanour or a similar offence," Khurshid says in his book.