A book by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru, The Accidental Prime Minister, hit the stands Friday and created a storm with damning claims on the equation between the PM and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and the crippling effect it had on governance.
The claims drew a strong reaction from the PMO, with PMO sources saying that a hurt Singh had told some of his aides he felt he had been “stabbed in the back”.
Baru is a columnist with The Indian Express and a former editor of Financial Express.
Sources said Baru had sent a copy of the book to the PM about a week ago with a note in which he had said that even though he felt “traumatised by the events of 2009”, he had tried to be objective.
The former aide has recalled in his book that Singh had asked him to return from a teaching job in Singapore to assist him in his second term in 2009 but failed to deliver on the promise at the eleventh hour after he had returned to Delhi.
This, he has indicated, was because of the party interfering in the decisions of the government and is the central premise of the book – that Singh could not be his own PM except on rare occasions like the nuclear deal.
The book, which comes in the middle of general elections, appeared to reinforce the opposition BJP’s charge that Singh’s UPA government was crippled by the “two centres of power” and suggested that the PM “turned a blind eye” to the alleged corruption charges against his ministers in the government.
“I have to 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,” Baru has quoted Singh as having told him, suggesting that the PM had virtually surrendered to Sonia.
That he surrendered his authority to the political bosses – Sonia and her son Rahul – has been highlighted in the book where Singh snubbed attempts to give him credit for expanding NREGS across the country while the party wanted to credit Rahul for it.
“The PM sat stiff in stony silence. I broke the silence adding, ‘The party wants to give the entire credit for this decision to Rahul. But both you and (Rural Development Minister) Raghuvansh Prasad deserve as much credit’,” Baru has written about his interaction with the PM after learning that the Congress had taken objection to the media crediting Singh for the move.
“I do not want any credit for myself.I do not want you to protect my image,” Baru has quoted Singh as having said while snapping at him for trying to credit him in the media.
That the PM was not in charge also comes across in an incident Baru narrates about continued…