Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjaya Baru

At the outset,let me say that Sanjaya Baru  deserves to be complimented  for writing a book which is thrilling , fast -paced and unputdownable.The hardbound edition(Penguin/Viking) has 300 pages.The subtitle of the book  is:The Making and Unmaking of Man Mohan Singh.
                          The book gives glimpses of the working of the Prime Minister of India , Man Mohan Singh mainly during UPA-1 rule(2004-2009) as seen by the author from the ring side.Sanjaya Baru was handpicked by Man Mohan Singh as his Media Advisor ,in the rank of Additional Secretary but reporting direct to the latter.The book is essentially journalistic and subjective , and therefore cannot be said to be based  purely on evidence.In that sense, it is not a piece of research on Indian governance system , the working of PMO , or the PM .But it does provide us confirmation about what persons interested in Indian governance system have guessed  all along .
            The main one achievement of Man Mohan Singh , in his ten years tenure as the PM of India was signing of Indo-US nuclear Pact  on July18,2005.Sanjay Baru gives ,in a convincing way ,the credit for this to Man Mohan Singh.
                       
                         The book focusses on the making and unmaking of Man Mohan Singh , especially during the four years (2004-2008).The role of Dr. Singh as Finance Minister of India has been mentioned in  a short para.It also touches only summarily the remaining six years (2009-2014) of  the ten years when Man Mohan Singh was the PM .Thus it is only the part of the story of the making and unmaking of  Man mohan singh as accidental Prime Minister.
                    The book gives an interesting insight into the subjective  and political manner in which  the important posts like Deputy Chairman and Members of bodies like  Planning Commission are handpicked and appointed.It mentions how the PM was forced not to appoint Sanjaya Baru himself as his Advisor , despite the PM himself wanting  it and having invited him .The PM 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".(page 270).Dr. Singh's general attitude  towards corruption in public life  seemed to be that he would himself maintain the highest standards of probity in public life  but he turned  a blind eye on the misdeeds of his ministers(page84).This complete surrender to the party president and not taking the responsibility of controlling the corruption of his ministers ,  point to fatal  flaws of Man Mohan Singh , not withstanding his competence as an economist .
                 I recommend you to read this book .It forces you to ask this question:What to do now, to  give India a good governance (political and administrative) system ,which  our country desperately  needs?