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The book by former media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today continued to make waves with Finance Minister P Chidambaram rejecting suggestions that it was Congress President Sonia Gandhi who was running UPA-II.
The author, Sanjaya Baru, himself maintained that “it was not a secret” that Congress Gandhi held the reins of government, a point that was backed by former Cabinet Secretary T S Subramaniam.
“I don’t,” Chidambaram said when asked whether he would agree with the claim that Sonia held control of the governments.
Answering a question whether in the past 10 years never was there an occasion when the PM had to go to No 10, Janpath for clearance, he said never in the past 10 years the prime minister has told him that he had to “go back and ask someone” to take decisions.
“We are in a party democracy. There are decisions and decisions. Some decisions can be taken within the government. Some have to be taken only after consultation with the party. This is political party government.”
“Some decisions were taken after consultations within the UPA. Is not the CPI(M) consulted on a decision to taken by its government. Do not state political parties given their inputs to their governments,” he asked.
“If it is a political decision which requires political consultation, well, I myself have taken it to the Core Group,” Chidambaram said.
Asked about Baru’s claim PM’s Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee, who was inducted into the PMO at Gandhi’s behest, held daily meetings with her to take instructions on important files to be cleared by the PM, Baru said, “that’s not a secret.
He said,”It is just one para, three sentences. I have written a lot of positive things about the PM. In UPA-I he was an accidental PM. He did not contest to become PM. But in 2009 the victory was Manmohan Singh’s victory.
“For me it was personally tragic. He (PM) was becoming a but of jokes, especially in the social media, like when he went to a dentist he was told ‘now you can open your mouth’.”
However, he added that despite what was happening politically the two leaders were deferential to each other.
Asked about the timing of the book, the veteran journalist timing was not decided by him but by the publisher.
Queried about the PMO’s attack on him that he had misused privileged access for writing fiction for commercial gain, Baru said, “I am amused.”
He said he has written a lot of positive things about the PM which were supportive of him. “There is criticism.
But there is a lot of facts about what the PM did, which are positive”.
Reacting to the furore over the contents of the book, former Cabinet Secretary T S Subramaniam said there was nothing new or that was not known. “I can only say that the real power was not with the executive but with the political side,” he added.