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NEW DELHI : One should expect the unexpected from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the late former President Pranab Mukherjee has written in a tell-all book about his days in the top office.

The memoir titled The Presidential Years 2012-2017 talks in detail about Modi’s leadership style. It also contrasts it with that of his predecessor Manmohan Singh, and underlines that the moral authority to govern rests with the prime minister, even as he highlights how both the treasury benches and opposition were responsible for Parliament not running smoothly during 2014-19.

Mukherjee points out that when Modi took over as PM, he had no experience in foreign affairs as his visits to some countries as chief minister of Gujarat were limited to engaging for the good of the state.

Modi’s out-of-the-box initiative to invite heads of state of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations for the oath-taking ceremony in 2014 had taken foreign policy veterans by surprise, Mukherjee says.

“He did what no PM had attempted before: invite the heads of government/state of SAARC nations to his oath-taking ceremony in 2014…It was evident that one could expect the unexpected from Modi, because he had come with no ideological foreign policy baggage. He was to continue with these surprises," Mukherjee, writes in the chapter Foreign Policy: Maintaining balance; Using Leverage of the recently published book.

The late leader writes that Modi continued with surprises when he made a sudden and unscheduled stop at Lahore in December 2015 to greet the then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and initiated an annual summit with China, which was held in Wuhan in 2018 and Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu in 2019. However, Mukherjee notes Modi’s stopover in Lahore was “unnecessary and uncalled for" given the prevailing India-Pakistan relations.

Modi’s working style is again highlighted in the chapter Path-Breaking Decisions: Story of Demonetisation and GST, where he says he was not surprised when Modi made the public announcement on demonetization without discussion, as it was in sync with his style. He clarifies that he was unaware of the move prior to 8 November, 2016 and adds that demonetization could not have been done with prior consultations with opposition parties and lawmakers as suddenness and surprise were must for such a move.

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