the Nehru – Gandhi dynastic rule was her only objective. Her yes-men were put
in all the powerful positions and no one could question her authority. In the
second term of the UPA, Dr Singh was not even allowed to employ a Media Advisor
of his own choice.
The book also tells
us how political intrigue rules over national interests. Truce endeavours between
Dr. Manmohan Singh and General Musharraf were dismissed because Sonia Gandhi
wanted the credit for it to go to her son Rahul and herself. The nuclear deal,
Dr Singh’s singular and monumental achievement which is recounted extensively
in this book, was almost scuttled by the Communists with their own agenda, and
the Congress Party looking to appease the Muslim vote by trying not to appear
close to the USA. In spite of tremendous pressure to cancel it, Manmohan Singh
put his foot down and the deal went through. The government nearly fell.
According to Baru,
Manmohan Singh was solely responsible for the UPA’s return to power in 2009. It
was his policies, profound economic insight and deft handling of external
affairs that won the coalition another term, and a fresh lease of life. Sonia
Gandhi stood for total power without any responsibility; Dr Singh stood for
total responsibility without any power. They were two faces of the same tragic
Baru admits that
there are gaps in his narrative because of lack of some confidential and
crucial inputs. Therefore, this account of the dynamics between Sonia Gandhi
and Dr Manmohan Singh is slightly sketchy.
The book is a crisp and engaging read, giving the reader an
inside view of the corridors of power and intrigue in New Delhi’s diplomatic
and governmental circles. It also delves into the methods of working of
Media Advisers. National and international equations are well-explained. And
last, but not least, it gives us a comprehensive insight into the personality
of one of India’s most silent Prime Ministers.
However, some chapters tend to bore the reader with the
details of various governmental schemes. Also, Baru tries to portray himself
almost as a guide to the Prime Minister, like a Krishna to an Arjun, so some
claims remain unverified and inconclusive, since we, as readers, were not party
to those conversations.
Baru holds up a
vivid picture of a failed hero. He quotes Dr Singh: “He said, ‘I am sorry about what happened. You see, you must understand
one thing. I have come to terms with this. There cannot be two centres of
power. That creates confusion. I have to accept that the party president is the
centre of power. The government is answerable to the party.'”
Maybe, this book
by Baru is the first ever to give a kinder version of the political truth of
Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Accidental Prime Minister, a man of academic brilliance and moral integrity, shackled
by political intrigue and constraints.