The Accidental Prime Minister – Book Review

The former PM of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh has been glorified and ridiculed alike in the social media, owing to various reasons. I heard and read many arguments for and against, but they were either insufficient to form opinions or were very biased towards a particular party. For long I was charmed by Sanjaya Baru’s book ‘The accidental Prime Minister’ but mistook it to be biased like popular opinion. My failure to find anything better finally made me look up its reviews and then pick up the book.

Sanjaya Baru was the chief editor of Financial Express before he took up his job as media adviser to the PM for his 2004-2009 tenure. His report-writing third party perspective coupled with knowledge of policy and economics present an unbiased account and analysis of Dr. Singh’s successes, failures and persona.

Baru enjoyed a close relationship with the PM during his role and makes numerous insightful observations. The book takes the reader on a tour to Dr. Singh’s decision making process – from chiding ministers to the caste politics. More importantly, Baru reveals Dr. Singh’s motivations and reasons behind different decisions. It shows you what has so far been out of the reaches of media.

The book discusses in detail major foreign policy initiatives by Dr. Singh like Indo-Pak negotiations and the 123 Agreement among others. However, The book also makes bitter but truthful comments about how Dr. Singh gravely failed the country and his post of PM by yielding power to Sonia Gandhi or by refusing to act on various important aspects – which later turned into the famous scams of UPA-2.

Like a true reporter, Baru never shies away from lashing out at any political party or leader when they have acted against the national interests – be it Sonia and Rahul of congress, LK Advani of BJP, or Prakash Karat of CPI. He ruthlessly presents who did what, and why he thinks it was wrong. These revelations provide a valuable moral to the side-story of the book: “every other political party is willing to compromise its values to win the game of power – even at the cost of national pride.”
Even though Baru writes about Sonia and Rahul for hardly 10 pages or so throughout the 340 page book and never targets them directly, it is more than enough to say what needs to be said.

This book is a must read, no matter your political opinions. Any introvert will immediately sympathize with Dr. Singh, who is clearly an introvert himself – and introverts have a reputation for being misunderstood. Whether you are for or against in the debate, read this book to know the other side of the story. If you believe Baru is against Dr. Singh, you are wrong. If you believe Baru has written in favor of Dr. Singh, you are wrong. And that is the success of this book.