In the first reaction from the family of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his eldest daughter Upinder Singh has severely criticised the book written by his former aide Sanjaya Baru, calling it “nothing but a stab in the back…a huge betrayal of trust’’ and a “mischievous, unethical’’ exercise.
Speaking to The Indian Express at her residence in Delhi University, where she teaches history, Upinder Singh said that the timing as well as the contents of the book raise issues of the author violating both the trust of the Prime Minister as well as the access he enjoyed.
“While I am not speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, we are extremely angry at the exaggerated level of access the author has ascribed to himself,” she said. “It is an audacious account with so-called quotes, of even the Prime Minister, which have been recorded as facts. Reported speech has been used as direct speech. Is this ethical?’’
Clearly miffed at the timing of the publication of the book (titled The Accidental Prime Minister) the Prime Minister’s daughter said that since it hit the market in the middle of the general elections, it could hardly be described as an “unbiased or objective book”. She countered comments of the author that the publisher decided the timing of the release by saying, “I have written several books and know that authors have a say in the timing of the release. To me, there are other reasons for the timing. It is absurd to say there is no political motive. Sanjaya Baru cannot describe himself as a well-wisher of the Prime Minister.’’
She added: “We all knew a book was in the air and he (Sanjaya Baru) met me recently at a wedding. When I asked him when the book would be out, he said, ‘Naturally, after the elections.’ What we did not know is that he was going to piece together gossip and unverified quotes, including some of my father, and use them as statements of fact.’’
In an attempt to distance the Prime Minister from the events described in the book, Upinder pointed out that the author was never part of the decision-making process in the PMO. Her view: “He is holding forth and projecting himself in the centre of events which is not true and he had no access to files. It is not as if he was the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. So what are the sources he has used? I spot an element of self-promotion in these assertions.’’
Giving an indication that she had been following the controversies and talk-shows held after the launch of the book, continued…