A book by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former aide Sanjaya Baru, ‘Accidental Prime Minister’, created a storm as soon as it hit the stands on Friday 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 insiders saying that a hurt Singh had told some of his aides he felt he had been “stabbed in the back”.
Baru, sources said, 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.
As the former media adviser has recalled in his book, 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 in the book, was because of the party interfering in the decisions of the government and, in a larger sense, symbolic of the differences between the two.
The book, which comes in the middle of the 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 Gandhi.
That he surrendered his authority to the political bosses — Gandhi 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 Gandhi 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