The book is titled Strictly Personal and is about a public figure with a reputation for being reticent and reserved. Befitting the title, the release of Daman Singh’s “affectionate and honest” account of the lives of her parents, Manmohan Singh and Gursharan Kaur, was a private affair and the former PM kept his reputation despite being at the centre of a political controversy, triggered ironically by another book.
The release of Daman Singh’s book comes at a time when her father is facing attacks from his political adversaries in the wake of former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai’s observations about him in his book. But, neither Singh nor his family wanted to let the controversy affect Daman’s big moment. The “strictly personal” event at Indian Habitat Centre comprised only of relatives and friends.
Publishers HarperCollins said Daman wanted it to be a “personal event”.
Perhaps for the first time, the three daughters of Singh — Upinder, Daman, Amrit were together at a public event along with Singh and Gursharan.
The only political face present was former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor. Also present was Montek Singh Ahluwalia and his wife
Isher Judge Ahluwalia. The former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman is a close family friend of Singh.
Singh, on his part, evaded questions from the media about Rai’s scathing observations. “I, indeed, did my duty. Well, I do not want to comment on other people (or) what they have written,” Singh said when asked about Rai’s remarks.
Daman said it was a tough job to chronicle her parents’ lives from the 1930s to 2004, the year Singh assumed the office of the Prime Minister which he went on to occupy for a decade. “When it comes to family, it is really hard to be impartial, to be unbiased. So I had a very tough job on my hands. It took me a long time to figure out how to go about this job… I decided that my book would be both affectionate — and I make no bones about it, it is an affectionate book — but also be honest. And it would be as honest as possible,” Daman said.
Like Singh, Daman too evaded controversial topics. Asked about the controversy triggered by Rai, she said, “Actually, I do not know anything about that. I have not heard what they have said. So, there is no point in saying anything.”