Millennium Post

Singh scavenged for cheap thrills

In India, it is customary to recount ‘insider’s account’ when one is safely ensconced in the cushion of distance from the actual subject; naturally because retrospective vision is usually 20/20. However, that cannot be said of Sanjaya Baru’s The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh simply because there is very little in the book that wasn’t known before or could be said to have an iota of novelty in it. That Manmohan Singh is a spent force at best and an albatross on Congress’ fatigued back at worst is something that has been pumped into our political and public domain for over four years now, ever since the first of the slew of corruption scams came to light. Where is the originality in dubbing the prime minister either ‘accidental’ or ‘weak’ or ‘spineless’ when he has been called that time and again by not just his political opposition and commentators in the country but also by some slightly uncouth heads of neighbouring nations? And isn’t it true that Sonia Gandhi’s guidance had ferried Congress and UPA from many a crisis which threatened to seriously derail the political gravy-train that is the government? Super PM or not, Sonia’s moral grounding has only benefitted India and given us landmark legislations, including food security, right to information and land acquisition act. However, the ‘feminisation’ of Singh has been an ongoing exercise chiefly engineered by the saffron brigade that wants to reconfigure the post of the prime minister as one signifying unending virility and martial values. And who better than Narendra Modi to fit that suitably masculinised, hyper-nationalised throne which has been so ‘defiled’ by the weakling in Singh?

While what Baru has to say in his book might be true, and no one is denying how Singh cast a blind eye to the unending corruption in his cabinet, will it be wrong to say that the narrative is heavily coloured by the journalist’s own grievances against the prime minister’s office? It’s an open secret that the PMO didn’t take Baru back for a second time as media adviser to the highest post-holder in the country. Hence, what is supremely suspect, more than the content of the book, is the precise timing of its launch, which fell right in the middle of a general election that will decide the next government at the centre, and, of course, the next prime minister. Isn’t it indirectly violative of the model code of conduct because it, by dint of showing the current PM in a bad light, inadvertently puts the opposition in a position of undue advantage? The definite surge of anti-incumbency notwithstanding, isn’t the book compromising the outcome of the general elections by launching into a scathing commentary on a governmental figure whose obsolescence and negative relevance were most apparent by his complete absence from any of the electoral campaigns from the Congress’ side?

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