Sum total of Natwar’s charges: Sonia 'Gandhigiri' still stands

This argument about renunciation – and the purported advantage Sonia took off it – is just as bunkum as her supposed “inner voice” telling her to renounce the PM’s post


Shantanu Datta | July 31, 2014

To start with, let us rephrase the statement made in the headline for the sake of clarity: what new is Natwar Singh, a former external affairs minister and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, saying in his much-touted “tell-all” autobiography ‘One Life is Not Enough’, due out on August 1?

From his interview with Karan Thapar on Headlines Today and a report in the Indian Express (which presumably has got an advance copy of the book), that Sonia Gandhi refused to become the prime minister in 2004 not because of some “inner voice” bunkum. She did so because of pressure put by son Rahul Gandhi, who, to believe Singh, “didn't want her to be killed like his father” and grandmother.

While rubbishing Sonia’s “inner voice” theory that he alleges was made up for the public, he rubs it in, too, for some special effects: “I give full marks to Rahul as a son,” Singh said in the interview.

If that bit of information “exposes the real face of the Congress”, as the BJP claims, or is set to flatten an already-decimated Congress, as many pundits are saying, one can only feel sorry for the Congress party. The party, in that case, need not occupy public space. Not because the “revelation” offered by the 83-year-old former Gandhi family ‘confidant’ (the politically correct expression for a hanger-on, or, worse still, a sycophant, the likes of whom the Congress has had aplenty over the past six decades but is now apprehensive of losing in the changed political scenario) is “explosive” and “deeply embarrassing” for the party. But because it is such an insignificant disclosure that only a clinically dead person would possibly be hurt much by its ramifications – in which case, the party has already been bowled out all ends up (and not been declared hit wicket, mind you) and returned back to the pavilion.

This argument about renunciation – and the purported advantage Sonia took off it – is just as bunkum as her supposed “inner voice” telling her to renounce the post; or throne, to add salt as per taste.

a) There was no renunciation to begin with. The pundits loved that idea then, and peddled it, and are now using the same argument in reverse gear to move Sonia Gandhi off the pedestal, so to speak. Making Manmohan Singh the administrative head and keeping the political reins with the Gandhi family (or 10-Janpath, if you will) was as much a political decision as fighting the elections. Nothing more, nothing less.

b) Even if we buy the renunciation bait, the fact that Sonia did not hanker for the post at her son’s insistence (or pressure, if you will) would perhaps add to that contention. A simple test: think of the 5W and 1H formula.

Who is it about? Sonia/Congress, of course.

What happened? Sonia let Manmohan be the PM.

When did it take place? 2004.

Where did it take place? New Delhi.

Why did it happen? Because Rahul pressured her into it.

How did it happen? Repeat answer 5.

Now reread questions 2 and 5. “Let” someone else take the most coveted job in the country is much, much more advantageous than all the negatives spawned by “being pressured” into doing it. And, then again: doing what? Letting someone else be the PM – even if for an extremely selfish, and worldly, reason of not being targets of some imagined-in-future terrorist group, as Natwar Singh paints it.

c) In fact, Singh’s rendition of the whole canvas circa 2004 does an enviable job for the Congress party: it paints Rahul Gandhi positively. 1) He has enough control over his sister and mother; 2) he is not hankering for top posts; 3) he, too, believes in renouncing power – not just personal but even family’s. Qualities that have certainly not emerged in public, notwithstanding the multi-crore publicity campaign and the advertisement blitzkrieg by the agency Dentsu.

So, unwittingly, Singh might be saying the very thing he wrote his memoirs to destroy: that the Gandhigiri in shunning power stands!

As for the former external affairs minister’s other charges – that something dark was of course marring the daal since Priyanka Gandhi (“attractive” and dressed in “feminine mufti”, says the IE report; the devil, as they, lies in the detailing!) and even top boss Sonia came to his house to purportedly check whether he would write about all the 2004 shenanigans – this writer holds no brief for either the party or the Gandhis. But as they teach in secondary schools, you know the whole story (as against the “truth”) only when you know it whole – that is to say from all parties concerned. Till then, it’s all about he said versus she said. And in the current political arithmetic, war of words between a mother affected by son-stroke and a father affected by a similar son-stroke, as Singh’s son, Jagat, is a BJP MLA.



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