The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh (City Plans)
by Sanjaya Baru
In 2004 Sanjaya Baru left a successful career as chief editor of the Financial Express to join Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his media adviser in UPA 1. Singh offered him the job with the words, Sitting here, I know I will be isolated from the outside world. I want you to be my eyes and ears. Tell me what you think I should know, without fear or favour.
The Accidental Prime Minister is Barus account of what it was like to manage public opinion for Singh while giving us a riveting look at Indian politics as it happened behind the scenes. As Singhs spin doctor and trusted aide for four years, Baru observed up close Singhs often troubled relations with his ministers, his cautious equation with Sonia Gandhi and how he handled the big crises from managing the Left to pushing through the nuclear deal. In this book he tells all and draws for the first time a revelatory picture of what it was like for Singh to work in a government that had two centers of power.
Insightful, acute and packed with political gossip, The Accidental Prime Minister is one of the great insider accounts of Indian political life and a superb portrait of the Manmohan Singh era.
About The Author
Sanjaya Baru is an Indian political commentator and policy analyst, currently serving as Director for Geo-Economics and Strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Previously he had served as associate editor at The Economic Times and The Times of India, and then chief editor at Business Standard. His father B. P. R. Vithal served as Finance and Planning Secretary during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s stint as Secretary of Finance. Before he became a journalist, he was a member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) when he was a student at University of Hyderabad. He became Manmohan Singh’s media advisor and chief spokesperson, a role in which he served from May 2004 until August 2008. In April 2014, Penguin India published The Accidental Prime Minister, Baru’s tell-all memoir about his time at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In it, Baru alleges that the prime minister was completely subservient to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who wielded significant influence in the running of the Singh administration, including the PMO itself. The book has sparked off a controversy, with the PMO officially denouncing it as “fiction”. Baru, however, has said that he set out to show an empathetic portrait of the prime minister.