Publication: Survival: Global Politics and Strategy
22 September 2015
Teresita C. Schaffer
The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh
Sanjaya Baru. New York: Viking, 2014. £16.99/$29.99. 320 pp.
Sanjaya Baru’s account of his time as spokesman and media adviser to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh came out as Singh’s time in power was drawing to a close. The initial response suggested an unseemly ‘kiss and tell’ book. That is incorrect: Baru paints a sympathetic picture of an honourable and often wise man, cast in a role that required far greater political skills than he possessed, and unwillingly caught up in a contest for power. He describes in lively detail the competition at the centre of the Indian government – between bureaucratic ‘tribes’, between coalition partners and, most damagingly, between Singh and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi. No one with any interest in the Indian government will dispute the conclusion that this last situation was unhealthy and personally humiliating to Singh, and that it played a major role in the unravelling of the Congress government and its eventual defeat, the worst in its history.