Political Memoirs

Last couple of days have seen quoted remarks, questions, counter-questions, and a whole lot of wry statements. Ex-Union Minister (and one-time Congress loyalist) Natwar Singh has been keeping the political and media fraternity on their toes with his disquieting remarks. From asserting that Rahul Gandhi lacked the fire in his belly to claiming that the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is on the brink, he has kicked up quite a storm. In his recently authored book: “One Life is Not Enough”, Singh has dedicated a complete chapter on Sonia Gandhi. The same person who used to be admired as the “foreign policy of the Congress and country”, came up with observations that don’t speak well of Congress leadership.

Among the “distasteful revelations” that he had made in his book, the one that raises eyebrow is the much speculated fact: every dissent in the Congress party is ‘smothered’ by Sonia Gandhi. Singh must have walked quite a long way since his departure from Congress. From being Sonia Gandhi’s “key fire fighter”, he is now hogging the limelight with his bitter outpourings, choosing words such as ‘Capricious’ and ‘Machiavellian’ to describe the Congress president.

What makes his book stand out is not only the criticism on Sonia, but the way it picked and chose stalwarts of the grand old party.  Singh quoted Churchill to describe Manmohan Singh’s tenure: “The morning was gold, the afternoon was silver, the evening lead.”

Indian polity can throw surprises like no other.  A loyal adviser to Sonia and a trusted ‘peace-maker’ for long is now accused by the Congressmen of misusing and distorting confidential information for commercial purposes. Such was the reverberating effect of Singh’s book that an otherwise reticent person like Manmohan Singh had to say that the observations made in the book are a bid to “market his product”. Not many moons ago, he dismissed the claims made by his ex-media adviser Sanjaya Baru.

It’s tad difficult to believe that whatever Singh has said in his book is no more than idle gossip because the fact is in his favour. As a foreign minister, he must have been privy to many crucial decisions. He must have seen several stakeholders from close quarters and the way they reacted to certain situations. However, one can’t rule out the possibility that an author fictionalizes events to portray oneself in good light and make villains of others. Now, that calls for several such memoirs from those who were at the helm of affairs.

After Sanjaya Baru’s ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, this is the second time that someone from the political and bureaucratic fraternity elucidated how Manmohan Singh couldn’t hold the reins and lost his authority to Sonia Gandhi.

Even before we rage about certain unsettling revelations, shall we not think whether all political memoirs contain the whole truth? Isn’t there always the other version? While Congress can say that Singh took to writing this biography to tarnish their image, they can also counter him by writing their ‘official’ version. After all, it’s a “one man’s word against another’s.” As one of the master practitioners of sarcasm said, we have to wait for Sonia Gandhi to come up with a memoir because that’s the “only way the truth will come out.”