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Mr.Natwar Singh's Autobiography: First a Squeal, Then a Sequel and Finally a Squelch
Natwar Singh, the Author
Mr.Natwar Singh is pleased with himself. His book titled "One Life Is Not Enough: An Autobiography" has been a runaway success with 50,000 copies having been sold in just four days. The publishers are going for a reprint. Mr.Singh is laughing all the way to the bank. While celebrating the success of his book, he did not forget to thank the Congress party for quivering the sales pitch by badmouthing him and his book. Does he, then, concede that his book owes it's success to the adverse publicity generated by the strident remarks made against him by Sonia Gandhi and her family's "staunch loyalists" and not to its literary appeal or the motivational and inspirational deeds and accomplishments of the debonair diplomat-turned-peerless politician author, which the autobiography must be replete with? If that indeed were the case, how well would that reflect on the author's skill and mettle as a diplomat, politician and writer?
Natwar with Sonia
First the Squeal, then the Sequel
Flush with the success of his book, Mr.Singh has wasted no time in announcing his intention of writing a sequel, which would contain more "truths" about the Gandhis. First a squeal and, then, a sequel! Is it the author's idea to keep his "staunch loyal" readers in a perpetual state of enthralment, with no let up before all of the "truth" is told? The autobiography had laid bare before the world what a naive, unimaginative and inept Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was in his handling of issues of foreign relations, defence matters and such, and how he had surrounded himself with ignoramuses and people with inflated egos like Arun Nehru and Gopi Arora. And yet, the author did not hesitate to call the man in whom the Congress party had seen all great qualities of a leader but did not exhibit or display any, a good man and an honourable Prime Minister, time and again! Sonia was, on the contrary, ruthless, vehement and forthright in dealing with him, a tainted Cabinet Minister. Hence the adjactives "capricious", "Machiavellian", "prima donna" etc to describe her. How much more personal could you get while judging a person's personality or character? He says Rahul is far too casual in his approach to politics and there is no fire in his belly.
In any case, what does Mr.Singh propose to accomplish with his proposed sequel? Substantiate his claims of unsuitability of the Gandhis for the coveted top job? Or come up with more illustrations of their goofing up the responsibility thrust on them against their own wishes. In either case, the promised second book portends to contain more of the same miasma which would make the Gandhis no more endearing in Indian politics than ever.
Why the Sequel?
It was not just the irresistible urge to cash in on the curiosity aroused in the readers of his autobiography to learn more about how much of the same blood and gore there is beneath the nonchalant air of superiority and standoffishness on the part of the Nehru-Gandhi family which comes closest to contemporary India's answer to the aristocracy of a bygone era.
While rubbishing Natwar Singh's autobiography, Sonia Gandhi had thrown down the gauntlet by stating that she was going to write a book too which would present the real truth. Is Mr.Singh's promised sequel intended to counter Mrs.Gandhi's book of exposés? How much of a deterrent would it be against Mrs.Gandhi's proposal to counter Mr.Singh's accusations and charges, measure for measure, drivel for drivel?
Natwar Singh In His Heydays
Sequel, a Non-Starter?
Be that as it may, Mr.Singh's sequel may not, in reality, be written for the following reasons:
● In India, sensational writing holds the key to a book making it big. We are, of course, excluding books of extraordinary literary merit, historical value or technical or scientific import from the ambit of the discussion on hand. The more the sensationalism, the more well-received a book is likely to be. However, in the matter of the Gandhi family, much of the sheen or the underbelly of scams has already been exposed to the public glare and become old hat. You may only rehash the old charges of misdemeanours already discussed and debated threadbare in the public fora. It is hardly likely that Mr.Singh has an ace up his sleeve which could be called the mother of all scams involving the Gandhis that has remained unexposed. Any accusation or allegation, less in intensity or gravitas, than those already peddled in the autobiography, would not whet the curiosity or inquisitiveness of the non-serious, scandal mongering reader. Any effort to couch a pedestrian detail of mediocrity as a sensational revelation is bound to fall flat. The proposed sequel may be found wanting or not sensational enough by the readers demanding more and more details of the Family which have escaped scrutiny thus far.
● Mr.Natwar Singh is no mean writer, by any standards. He does already have some good publications to his credit. To add a chapter or two on Sonia Gandhi in his autobiography was in the fitness of things and to mince no words while writing his perception of the events and people in his life was the most logical thing for him to do. However, to keep producing more and more trivia about what kind of a person Sonia is or what kind of a person Rahul isn't, is clearly stretching one's literary licence a bit too far to indulge in a meaningless exercise in the tasteless and insipid topics of utter insignificance. Such writings would do him no credit. Definitely not at this stage of his life.
● It is no secret that Mr.Singh was in politics only for the sake of holding high office and power. For him, politics was synonymous with high office and power. He was never a people's politician. Once he was removed from his Cabinet post and suspended from the Congress party, his political existence came to a near end. In a desperate move, he made a final bid at regaining some of his lost glory by joining the, hold your breath, Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP), and staked his claim for a Rajya Sabha(Upper House of Indian Parliament) ticket. Far from granting his request, the BSP leadership dismissed him from the party. Condemned to political wilderness, he retired from active politics. To say unkind things about and cast aspersions on leaders whom he had willingly cosied up to for the sake of high office, long after he became a political nonentity, does not make him a credible or trustworthy source of information. If he had spilled the beans while in active politics, he would have been called a whistle blower that paid heed to the call of his conscience. Now, he is on no high moral grounds, doing what he is doing.
● Mr.Natwar Singh is believed to be from a family with aristocratic links and is married to the daughter of the last Maharaja of Patiala State, Yadavindra Singh. His connection with the Congress party was solely on account of his "loyalty" to the Nehru-Gandhi family of four generations. Hence his disenchantment with politics when he was cut off by Sonia. Maybe he expected to continue to receive the largesse of the Gandhi family as a family retainer of sorts when the going got tough for him. Maybe a governorship in lieu of a Cabinet Minister's post would have done nicely! To have to sit at home and moon over missed opportunities and wasted "loyalty"! Why would any serious reader in today's India take the work of a fine specimen of self-serving medieval Indian aristocratic system seriously? Mr.Singh should know this better than anybody else.
Finally, the Squelch
If Mr.Singh still goes ahead and writes his sequel, it may succeed in keeping the cash registers jingling but would likely make no more an impact than a squelch in the muddy terrain of today's Indian politics.
© 2014 Kalyanaraman Raman