One can say that Singh has an impeccable timing as his book has been released at a time when the Congress is decimated, Sonia Gandhi has been served summons in National Herald case and he has nothing to lose.
With a range of adjectives to describe Congress president Sonia Gandhi – from “authoritarian” and “capricious” to “Machiavellian” and “secretive” – Natwar Singh’s autobiography One Life is Not Enough (published by Rupa) is available in the market now. Now the whole world can read the secrets of Gandhi clan and the UPA government ruled by them.
Although, Singh says that he wrote this autobiographical expose because he did not want to take his “bitterness to the funeral pyre”, but there is a little doubt that it was meant to put a big dent in the dynasty’s aura. But the book does more – it documents the fall of Congress.
The whole book is less about Singh and more about the Nehru-Gandhi clan and the governments under them. In fact, his book can be seen as a continuation of Sanjaya Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister which humiliated the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and exposed the Congress.
Just like Baru, the former media advisor of ex-PM, Singh has also claimed that 10 Janpath (Sonia’s residence) was where the real power centre of the UPA government was. He alleges that “Sonia very discreetly monitored the functioning of the most important ministries in the government, displaying a Machiavellian side to her character”.
Singh’s book dispels the myth created by media about Sonia Gandhi – that she is a figure of ‘grace’ and ‘sacrifice’ – after winning the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when she turned down the post of prime minister and instead picked Manmohan Singh for that job.
The incidents of May 17-18, 2004 were in the newspapers where various petitions had raised questions about her citizenship and qualification to become the prime minister of the country. One such petition was that of BJP leader and then Janta Party president Subramanian Swamy who, in his petition to President Kalam, had said the Citizenship Act did not allow Sonia to become PM.
“In particular Ms Gandhi is subject to proviso under Section 5 of Citizenship Act, a reciprocal disqualification to be Prime Minister of this country since she is Italian,” Swamy said in his petition dated May 15, 2004 to Kalam adding that the President’s power to invite anyone who enjoys support of majority of elected members is not “unfettered”.
There were many speculations as to why “figure of sacrifice” let Manmohan Singh take the reins of UPA. But Natwar Singh provides a detailed insiders account to putting an end to all speculations and denting the image of Sonia.
According to Singh, it was Rahul Gandhi – the heir apparent – who had vehemently opposed her move since he feared she would also lose her life like his grandmother and father, and the “inner voice” of ‘Mother of all Congressis’.
It should be noted that in an interview to NDTV after the ‘graceful’ drama of Sonia, her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had revealed this fact.
“He was very adamant,” Singh said, recalling a May 18, 2004 meeting where Priyanka Vadra conveyed Rahul’s views to Manmohan Singh, Gandhi family friend Suman Dubey and him. “As a son, full marks to Rahul,” Singh told Karan Thapar in his interview on Headlines Today ahead of the release of his book.
That ‘renunciation’ formula helped Sonia again in March 2006 when the “office of profit” issue threatened to culminate in her disqualification as an MP. In a surprise move, she resigned from Lok Sabha, only to be re-elected from Rae Bareli before Parliament could open for the next session. The UPA government would later make relevant amendments in the office of profit statutes.
One can say that Singh has an impeccable timing as his book has been released at a time when the Congress is decimated, Sonia Gandhi has been served summons in National Herald case and he has nothing to lose (Singh’s son Jagat Singh is a BJP MLA from Rajasthan).
In what could be more daunting for the Congress president is a five-page epilogue written by Singh in which he says that what Sonia has “achieved” is the reduction of one of the “greatest political parties” of the world into a “rump” of 45 members in the Lok Sabha. And hopes that with a “commanding majority,” Narendra Modi, as PM, will “restore the image” of the country.
Meanwhile Sonia Gandhi has claimed that only she is privy to the truth which will come out only after she writes a book. “I will write my own book and then you will come to know everything. The only way truth will come out is if I write. I am serious about it and I will be writing,” Sonia told mediapersons at Parliament yesterday.
Whatever the case, Sonia Gandhi must pack for the truth is bitter as always and will force her to go.