Claiming that his book was the “strongest defence” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure, former media adviser to him Sanjaya Baru Friday said against the backdrop of widespread criticism of the PM, “somebody had to stand up and defend him”.
At an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps on the controversy surrounding his book — The Accidental Prime Minister-The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh — Baru said a lot of the initial reaction on the book was based on “superficial reading” and statements that the book was critical of Singh were “ill informed”. He said his fear was that people would allege the book was a “last minute PR exercise for Singh” and he never thought it would be accused of being critical of him.
Baru claimed he was not in favour of bringing out the book during elections since he felt it would generate controversy, but his publishers took a call on the timing. “However, if I had brought out the book later, the same people (Congress) would have said when we were in office, he didn’t have the guts to publish the book,” he said. Responding to questions on the criticisms his book has received, the former media advisor to Singh said nobody till now had “questioned the facts” in the book, adding it was a “very carefully written book”.
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He, however, admitted they were facts as he recognised them and he had taken a “subjective view”.
He said the biggest mistake Singh made was to not contest the 2009 LS polls and come back as an elected MP. Baru added that while the 2004 mandate was for Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the mandate in 2009 was for Manmohan. He said on the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal, there was disagreement within the BJP. “The final nuclear liability bill was not the original bill,” he said, adding that while “leader A” of the BJP had approved the bill, “leader B” said he was not consulted.