NEW DELHI: Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday that Yashwant Sinha as Union Finance Minister in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar had narrowly missed out on delivering the historic reforms Budget which was ultimately presented by his successor Manmohan Singh a few months thereafter in 1991.
"Sinha was stalled from delivering the Budget speech by the Congress. I, myself, was one of those who had prevented him from delivering the Budget speech by virtue of being a Congress member of Parliament," said Mukherjee, who was the chief guest at the launch of Sinha's autobiography 'Relentless' at the India International Center here on Monday.
During the launch function, Sinha spoke about the stormy relationship between bureaucrats and politicians.
Sinha, a 1960 batch IAS officer who quit the services in 1984, enumerated how he was ill-treated by lowly-placed government officials when he joined politics. He said he was deeply influenced by socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, following whom he entered politics.
"People who had served under me when I was a Deputy Commissioner would not offer me a chair to sit when I became an election agent for George Fernandes during one of the elections. Why? Because I belonged to the opposition party.
"This is a huge chink in the character of our civil servants. They will butter those belonging to the ruling establishment as if no one else in the world mattered to them. They will treat anyone from the opposition with misdemeanour. This is an aspect of the Indian bureaucracy which needs to be changed," Sinha said.
During the course of a panel discussion which was attended by former Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah , Sinha outlined the circumstances under which he quit the civil services. However, he termed his decision to quit the services as 'rash'.
"A politician had shouted at me over some matter. I told him that I was a gentleman and that I wanted to be treated like one. If he wanted to shout, he needed to get someone else," said Sinha.
'Relentless' is replete with numerous anecdotes and interesting facts, starting from Sinha's childhood. The book traces his journey through eight decades of his life till he parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in April 2018.
It highlights several incidents of Sinha's bureaucratic career as well as during his political life when he switched from the Janata Party (Samajwadi) to the BJP in 1993.
The book has been published in India by Bloomsbury.