As citizens of free India, everybody has a right to pen his/her memoirs. Some people may be wrong-footed by such writings. And if those who are at the receiving end are public figures there is every chance of a slew of controversies and slug-fests cropping up.
Both former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh and Sanjay Baru, the media adviser of ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh did set the cat among the pigeons though one is not sure if the revelations in their books would have a positive impact on sales.
On the other hand, if Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh decide to pen their memoirs in response to all sorts of allegations made by various people, including the two authors mentioned above, one can be certain that they would be instant sellouts.
Natwar Singh's upcoming autobiography, One Life Is Not Enough, the snatches of which he revealed in various interviews, throws up a few key questions.
Are the muck-raking and belting of the Nehru-Gandhi family designed to make the book a bestseller?
Is it a conduit for pouring out his hitherto stifled frustrations against the Congress party and its president Sonia Gandhi in particular? Is it to give a leg-up to his son, Jagat Singh, a BJP legislator from Rajasthan to climb up the saffron ladder? Or is it revenge, pure and simple, for having been chucked out of the Congress party following the Volcker Committee report?
The United Nations-appointed Volcker panel had named Natwar Singh in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam. He had to quit as minister following the report and eventually from the party. He believes that Sonia could have saved him then but instead gave the green light for his suspension from the party.
In a dig at Sonia's foreign origins he says: "No Indian would treat a man who was loyal to family for 45 years who had been very close to her…It's just not done in India.
"There is a part (of Sonia) which is ruthless."
So if some people find a tincture of revenge in his observations and allegations against Sonia, they cannot be faulted. As for Sanjay Baru, he was miffed at Manmohan Singh's decision not to keep him as media adviser in the UPA-II dispensation. Or so some people believe.
Natwar says that the reason behind Sonia's decision not to take up the nation's top executive job during the UPA-I is his son Rahul's stubborn stance against it as he feared she would be killed a la his father and grandmother and not the much-vaunted call of her 'inner voice' implying a big personal sacrifice.
This observation would certainly hurt her. In fact, she has said in response that she'll write her own memoirs to reveal the 'truth'. However, this does not constitute a blemish in her character. Besides, common people were not bothered about backstage shenanigans before Manmohan Singh was installed as the PM. In fact, behind-the-scene discussions and even a kerfuffle of sorts are common before the selection of a PM or CM, if there was no official candidate before the polls.
Furthermore, a son's fear about his mother's safety is quite natural. So what's the big deal?
He also says that the files of the then PMO were regularly carried to Sonia Gandhi and nothing moved without her consent. In other words, Manmohan Singh was remote-controlled by Sonia. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that Sonia, qua Congress chief, had control over the cabinet and that included the prime minister.
Natwar and Baru seem to be on the same page on this issue. However, what Baru said was slightly different. Said he (Baru) "…I was not witness to it, whether she physically saw the files. I knew she was consulted on issues and he was taking her concurrence." This is hardly any news.
Natwar's claim that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi did not consult his cabinet colleagues before sending Indian soldiers (IPKF) to Sri Lanka may well be true as the Congress then had brute majority in parliament.
In fact, one has a lurking fear that the incumbent prime minister would take such major decisions all on his lonesome too as everybody knows it is his writ that runs in the cabinet and the saffron party these days.
Natwar reportedly rues that there are many more things which are not revealed in his book. Perhaps that's why he has given the title One Life Is Not Enough. He had better reveal all for he may not recollect everything in the next life.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.