Exclusive: The Author of The Accidental Prime Minister, Sanjaya Baru, Speaks Out

Sanjay burrows book The Accidental Prime Minister is subtitled the making and unmaking of Manmohan Singh and seemed an apt subject when it first came out in April 2014 as Manmohan Singh was after all the sitting prime minister at the time there were stories of the BJP having translated passages of borrows book into Hindi and printed lakhs of copies for distribution certainly BJP leaders site of the book and its contents in their political campaign against the Congress while the PMO and Congress leaders denounced the book as propaganda five years later the book is back just in time for the 2019 direction and the BJP has once again embraced the film version of it and its narrative to run down the chorus joining us today to discuss the film is none other than the author of the book dr. Sanjaya baru and this will be his only interview on the film and we of course will speak to him about his sense of what the movie portrays and how accurately or inaccurately the the film is a representation of his book we have a grateful dr. morrow that you have agreed to give this only interview to the wire well I've known you for what now 15 three hello yes long time we have former colleagues so happy to be here well great now the film dr. bara has been widely criticized for being a crude work of propaganda and I just want to read an excerpt from one of India's foremost film critics Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express when she writes The Accidental prime minister is an out-and-out propaganda film created for the specific purpose of making the former prime minister look like a weak spineless man a puppet whose strings were controlled by the family quote/unquote as the author of the book how do you respond to this kind of criticism you know film critics are a unique species I remember reading I don't know if it was Graham Greene or someone of the author who said that film critics are people who don't make films so I never really read film critics I don't decide to see a film base what critics say and I think generally filmmakers and artists for that matter regard critics says if people who don't do the art but take a view on that so I don't want to get into a discussion on what critics have been saying because I've been post positive and negative criticism as a film itself it goes beyond the book I think there's a lot in the film which is not there in the book and the producers of the film have made it very clear that the film is based on the book the way they call it fictionalized dramatization of the book yeah I read the catification note very carefully at the start of the film yeah exactly and so it says this based on the books therefore the lot in the film which is not there in the book to the extent that there are some things in the film which are there in the book you know you can take two views on how it is portrayed I don't think with the exception of Ian Fleming any author I know whose book has been made into a film has ever been happy with the film version you know because the way in which the visual dramatization of a book is done but more importantly is that my book is written at several levels unfortunately it got typecast as a kind of a critique off of the prime minister but it was more than that it was in many ways a critique of a kind of government that the UPA approved to be and also it was a look at the way in which the system functions so I think those nuances don't come to the film when one can't blame but but you regard the film as some kind of political propaganda and the fact that the BJP tweeted the trailer from its official handle does that does that bother you as a writer that this is that that what you intended as as shall I say scholarly or detached view of what happened is has become something else in the hands of a political party yes and I was disappointed about this from day one but I would put the blame on the Prime Minister's office into the April 2014 they in fact virtually handed the book over to the opposition by condemning it the moment the book got condemned it generated interest in general curiosity so in a sense I think the controversy around the book was unfortunate because as I have said again and again and I've and I said this even to dr. Manmohan Singh before the book was published that 80% of the book in fact is a strong defense of his prime ministership only 20% is a critic and I you know in in in a recent afterward to a new edition I've mentioned what Mao Zedong had said famously that you know nobody is perfect you know if you're 70% ok you're ok for 70% good you're good there is always a 30% which is not good and by that criteria and I think Manmohan Singh was a good Prime Minister but unfortunately the focus on the 30% which is his inability to deal with corruption which was not a secret which was what was the responsible for the defeat of the Congress in 2014 his inability to deal with corruption and his inability to deal with constant interference from the National Advisory Council and you know elements outside of government was my criticism that here was a prime minister and like any other before him who was dealing with interference in in his normal functioning and I think that became the focus of the opposition's attack so you can use the word propaganda I think it was something that came out of the defensive response and in fact many congressmen have since said to me that their initial response was was actually misplaced but I mean I'm going to focus on the movie a little bit more Sanjay because the formula of 70/30 or 80/20 which I think I've been having read the book back then I would say is an accurate you know characterization of the book it's by and large an account of what happened in the PMO what happened in the UPA one the movies focus seems to be elsewhere I mean if we were to use mathematical ratios far from 80/20 or 70/30 it's more like ninety ten like ninety bad and ten good and and even even even the good is more as a way of scoring a propaganda point against Rao Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi the way that it appears on the film ya know there is in the first half considerable sections from the book but I think in the second half you're right this much more of stuff there which is not there in the book so the balance between the first in the first half second are very very different in the in the film but you don't want to get drawn into whether it's an act whether whether the film is a piece of political propaganda you know if you ask that question as a journalist as a scholar everything is propaganda what is not I mean particularly anything that is political is propagating a viewpoint I mean we use the word propaganda in a pejorative sense but propaganda is the propagation of a viewpoint the book had a viewpoint the film has a viewpoint and I think the point I would like to make is that there are viewpoints in the film which are not there in the book to that extent such as tell us a few well a lot of the conversations between for example between dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are not there in the book or even references to Rahul Gandhi I don't think Rahul Gandhi actually figures in my book at all except the incident where he tears the ordinance so that scene that scene in the film where Rahul Gandhi barges in with the delegation of youth is that that is there the sorry that is actually it was not a delegation of youth it was a delegation of Congress general secretaries that incident was there sorry III there are two incidents involving Rahul Gandhi one is where on dr. Manmohan Singh's birthday the entire all the general secretaries of the Congress party not a huge delegation I think the film talks of you delegation not not correct all the general secretary is called on the Prime Minister and submit and Rahul Gandhi submitted a memorandum asking the Prime Minister to make an R eg a universal across the country forgetting the fact that the Prime Minister had already announced it and that incident is there in the book and I was pulled up for you know confirming to the media that in fact the Prime Minister had said this is Independence Day speech and the second incident was the ordinance the tearing of the ordinance so I mean the various scenes in the book for example the meeting between Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh after Sharm el-sheikh clearly clearly clearly something that's fictionalized by the yeah they are not there right exactly exactly turning from the contents of the film narrowly to the question of timing tell us your view about the timing of the film because again if I were to quote Shubhra Gupta as one of many critics she says singing may well have been an accidental prime minister in baru succinct succinct words and history may or may not judge them differently but it is no accident that the film is out now the release is completely intentional the polls are around the corner what do you think about the timing of the film's release how does the film manage to appear not not one year or two years or three years after the book but exactly five years off of the book and on the eve of the elections well I think their argument is that this is when the interest is high I mean it's a commercial decision yeah as you remember you will recollect about the book as well when chicky Sarkar as the publisher of that's right they were very keen that had come out they were very keen that it should come out before the election right while I was saying the book should come out after the election and the publishers view was theirs this has to be a commercial decision we have to decide when the book will sell and I finally left that decision to the publisher similarly I think an open care has said somewhere that this is a commercial decision this is the season of politics there's a lot of interest in politics this is when you release a political film where else when else would do so I you know is their defense I don't have a hood when when did you settle the film rights for this I think it was about six months after the book was published so somewhere towards the end of 2014 or early 2015 probably early 2015 the actually you know the the interesting story is that the producer Sunil Bora called me one day and said I would like to meet you and and we met and he said to me that he was with Aamir Khan and that he go he used to regularly go to Aamir Khan for ideas you know looking for scripts for films as a producer and then he had gone to Aamir Khan's saying you know we have an idea for a for a for a film and he found Aamir Khan was reading The Accidental prime minister and according to mr. Bora Aamir Khan said to him you know this book will make a good film and we had not heard about the book till then so he went home and asked one of his friends to read through the book and you know and he said I took Americans view very seriously because he's a serious filmmaker and a few couple of weeks after that he called me and said look I read through the book we think it will be interesting are you willing to give us the film rights so I said okay I mean this is a first time in my life somebody was asking for film rights for a book so I signed the film rights and then I had forgotten all about it I think it's taken about four years after that and did you play any role in developing the script not at all after I signed the film rights I've had no role at all except that I met the director on two occasions I think somewhere in an interview the director said he met me for a week five hours a day that is not true I think he met me for a couple of days and mainly to understand from me some of the characters in the book because I don't develop these characters whether it's Jay and dick sheath or TK and I so he wanted to know a little more about the characters in the book that was only conversation I had apart from that my involvement has been so when he signed signed off the signed away the film rights you this was pretty much giving them a carte blanche to develop the book or to use the title in any way that they would want that's right I mean the the contract said that the the film whatever the film version would be based on the book but not necessarily hundred-percent as somebody who worked with dr. Manmohan Singh and as someone who has by your own account written what you believe to be a sympathetic account of his sympathetic portrayal of his time as as Prime Minister how do you how did you relate to under pom care spa trail of of the prime minister of dr. Manmohan Singh in the in the movie and I mean the the tonality of his voice his gait people have been very critical about the fact that you these are all exaggerated in under pom care it was otherwise a very good actor but he in a way plays up the character in a certain way which seems to be far from complimentary to Manmohan Singh the Manmohan Singh of the film is the Manmohan Singh of today much older and then his speech is slower his gait is slower the Manmohan Singh of my book was of UPA one as you know my book was about UPA one largely and and if you see the book there are many sections in the book where I talk about the way he walked even after his operation in June 2009 when he called me back from Singapore and we walked together from three RCR to seven RCR in the heat of June I mentioned the fact that you know he was walking briskly with always a very brisk walker he was agile he could be short-tempered I got scolded many times so the Manmohan Singh of UPA one is very different but I think the Manmohan Singh that an affirmed care for trace is the Manmohan Singh that we see today an older slower man with the software wise and I think they may have taken a cinematic decision that this is the Manmohan Singh the today's audience relates to even though he's hardly visible today I mean that's it's not as if anybody ever sees Manmohan Singh the way is far more visible in the last few months true but I mean not so much you don't see you know moving images about walking for example true you're right I'm as I said the Manmohan Singh of UPA one was a very far more physically active he would walk faster than most people around him you think to that extent the film director and the actor have been unfair to Milan and and have just taken a decision which is a rather crude way of running running somebody down actually you know I don't like strong words like crude or propaganda you know it's a way of portraying him which is different from what as I recollect he was in UPA one subject again coming back to the broad content of the film versus the content of the book as I said earlier my sense of the book was that from your vantage point it was a portrayal of the Prime Minister as he was in UPA one and your sense of how various decisions and you know policy matters got got taken one could quibble about and people have been critical about whether you may have exaggerated your your own role or your own proximity or your own vantage point but it was a it was a narration of UPA one in the broadest possible sense and my recollection of the book is that other than one or two incidents I recall one incident involving pull of chatterjee and and where you talk about the possibility of files going in a way that was not proper between the PMO and and Sonia Gandhi and the other of course of narsimha Ross funeral but in the main my takeaway from the book when I read it was not that this is an expose of government by remote control but an account of the way UPA one function in which this was one element but certainly there wasn't that much of corroborate of stuff the film is almost exclusively centred around this idea of you know Manmohan Singh being being a puppet and you know frame after frame scene after scene story after story or subplot within the film is entirely revolving around that even you know on the issue of you know the nuclear deal or Sharm el-sheikh what you name it I mean from UPA one and you PT of this book they've picked issues purely to portray Manmohan Singh as as a puppet being manipulated by Sonia and Rahul do you feel that people who see only the film are going to come away with a very very warped notion of what your book contains yes well I I've been telling people that they should read the book I am responsible for the book I'm not responsible for the film and it is true that Manmohan Singh of UPA one was very different from one one Singh of UPA – which is what I suggest in the book but on your first observation about what the book is you know I begin by quoting Sharda Prasad who talks about the Rashomon effect right Rashomon was a Japanese movie in which there are seven three different people narrating a same incident in three different ways and that is always the problem when you write a book from your point of view now this accusation that I exaggerate my role is a silly accusation it actually is a quite a stupid acquisition because I do say that this is the way I looked at things that doesn't mean I was the most important character in the Prime Minister's Office I was the most important character in my book because it was my book it was the way I looked at what was happening whether it was a nuclear deal whether it was you know other incidents these were all first-person accounts and there is not a single lie in the book I mean I think one MK Narayanan somewhere said the book is full of lies there's not a single life because these are conversations or incidents where I was the witness and therefore you know these are facts now of course these are facts that I am i was privy to but therefore it it was my version and others are free to come out with their worship I'm sure there could be a different way in which say someone like mr. in Iran and would have viewed this period or someone else in the Prime Minister's office sir else reviewed this period and I'm quite willing to accept that there are different ways of looking at the same reality and I say that in the beginning of the book as far as the film is concerned clearly the filmmakers chose to pick out certain elements in the book now it is not true that the Polacks role or the other incident which we're the only ones were the only ones the fact is that you know even on the nuclear deal and you have covered the nuclear deal more than anybody else in this country there was constant you know back and forth between the government and the party and and you know the Hindustan Times some it was which was shown in the film was a reality that on the same day you had you know mrs. Gandhi taking a view which is different from the view that of the Prime Minister and so we went through a period in which there were differences and finally dr. Manmohan Singh had to put his foot down and I think that would have seen colleges the very fact that I mean just to stick to that visa angry incident right Manmohan Singh and Sonia are taking different views on the nuclear deal the very fact that Sonia can say from a public forum that preserving the government is more important than the nuclear deal right and then Manmohan Singh essentially goes ahead and puts the government's neck on the chopping block paints a very different picture from what emerges from the film certainly but even from the book right no no I mentioned even in the film that particular incident is shown in which he asserts himself right after all he says that you know am I going to sacrifice the interest of country the nuclear deal was the high point of the prime on once in prime ministership and it it in many ways it showed his assertive personality which is there in the book I mean this is really what made Singh is king right I there are many other issues on which you use on the backfoot but this was one thing which I don't think the film has been unfair to the book on the nuclear deal there were other situations which as you said get kind of played up more than film than in the book but I think on the on the nuclear deal there was a lot of back-and-forth and finally it's Manmohan Singh who took the decision that you'd allow they left to go but we also know from WikiLeaks and yeah that it was it was the party and it's dirty tricks that finally ensured that the vote of confidence in the look server went the Congress's way it's not true I don't believe the key leaks don't believe this I don't believe the dirty tricks story the fact very simply as I have written in the book is that the Samajwadi Party chose to support dr. Manmohan Singh why they chose to support is something you should ask mr. mallum Singh ya know what what made them to support dr. Manmohan Singh it was a political decision and I have taken the view in the book that the vote of confidence in July 2008 was an honorable worth of confidence this drama that the BJP had of money of cash being exchanged etc was a fraud I don't believe that money played a role maybe there were some one or two members of parliament to who are demanding so payment I have no idea but the decisive vote for dr. Manmohan Singh in July 2008 was as a result of a political decision by Milan Singh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party to come in and prop up the UPA government right so I don't think this dirty-tricks argument is a valid ugly okay Sanjay you say that the allegation or the acquisition that you have exaggerated your role in in the narration is foolish because you're telling the story from your point of view but is there a danger when narrating the story the way that you've done that viewers get a sense get the viewers get an exaggerated sense of the importance of a media advice I mean no matter how close personally you may be to Manmohan Singh it's hard to imagine that on crucial issues like the nuclear deal or on various other things that you would have been the principal or the most important sounding board presumably there were other officials who were look the two points one is I do not exaggerate my role at all in the book in in the film they chose to make my character this the central character no but he's a narrator a person who looms large in the book looms even larger than the movie in the form of a second let's see the point about the book is that I mentioned incidents in which I was involved those who say I exaggerated my role don't understand what happened because they were not there I mean when Manmohan Singh calls me when I'm having dinner in andhra bhavan to say that deal is in jeopardy you know is there any way you can help and then I'm then going across to Ashleigh telus who then convey some message to condi rice that's a fact now whether that played a critical role or not I don't know but I mentioned the fact now you could say that that was irrelevant to the overall scheme of things maybe so but then those who are aware of the other side should write their own book here is an incident in which I was involved the incident about my carrying a message from amar Singh to Manmohan Singh is a fact I got the phone call saying that amar Singh and the Samajwadi Party were willing to step in and support the dr. Singh I can read that message to dr. Singh now you know it's not that I am exaggerating the role of secondly and that is where I think some of the commentary particularly in the recent weeks after the film has come out is completely ill-informed and when you say someone has written a media advisor doesn't play this role in fact she need journalist a senior editors have said this is not the way media iDevices function now maybe so but the fact is that I was conveying messages for the prime minister I was conveying messages between Prime Minister and cabinet ministers you know that's a fact now I can't help it if I was being asked to do things which media advisors are not supposed to do you know it's possible that you say oh this is not job of media and I think part of the problem within the PMO was precisely this why should I have been called to convey a message to Ashley tellus and that that was the job of the war a foreign secretary or national security adviser but I I was called now you can't blame me for you know mentioning that fact there are several other incidents like this which I don't write in the book which are not there but the fact is that for whatever reason I had become in some ways a messenger boy on many occasions the other allegation of course is of kissing and telling in the propriety of that what is your advice at a time when you have you know a lot of younger people looking to get into different government at lateral entry and so on what is your or even you have you know you have serving bureaucrats and others who I mean there's there is in some sense a growing a small but growing literature of people who retire and then right what's your sense of the ethics of post-retirement writing when you hold a position of some privilege like you had you know first of all this was the government that legislated the Right to Information Act thanks to the NSA which you run down but the point I'm making is it is precisely those who enacted the Right to Information Act that should recognize the importance of such books the problem in India because this is not a question that is often raised in the Western Democratic world the problem in India is that we are a feudal society every person in power irrespective of political party and I've been in Delhi now for close to thirty years as a journalist as a analyst I have not come across a single person in power who does not expect civility from his subordinates we are essentially a feudal society if you say nice things if I had written a purely hagiographical book saying what a great guy dr. Manmohan Singh was nobody would have said anything but the moment you bring in some criticism immediately they saw this kissing lemon kiss-and-tell is a pejorative that discourages writing in a free society why should it be seen in that manner you should see it as a recording of history by someone inside and I think the terrible tragedy if as a result of such books people are discouraged from writing because what we need is more such storytelling more such recording of facts as long as they obeyed two things one no breach of an official secrets act and I've said this book does not breach an official secrets act second wherever I was asked to keep a confidence I've kept it and I've said that in my introduction that wherever for example dr. Manmohan Singh would say look keep this to yourself I've kept it to myself there isn't a single incident or statement in that book where I was not asked not to talk about it what the book contains and I think current topper made this point in defending his quoting you know Pavan were my and when this book came out that when somebody says something to a journalist and a lot of the things that were said to me were when I was no longer in government you know I was a reader business standard people forget that I left government in 2009 and so a lot of the conversations after 2009 are conversations between a journalist and someone in government where this person in government doesn't say keep this to yourself it's off the record no and therefore I took it that I was free to quote this and I think people should be encouraged to write such books I would encourage people you know whether it is government officials or politicians to write honest books I I you know I I had a recently a very nice very nice conversation with mr. Pranab Mukherjee who's writing the fourth volume of his book and I said to him I said sir it's great that you you know writing these books and we hope you know you'll be more forthright in in the next volume compared to your earlier volumes but I wish people I wish dr. Manmohan Singh writes his biography in order does it what are you given the kind of reception that your your book received from of course the establishment then but I dare say even the establishment now having made full use in any way that they could of the book and now the movie would be quite wary of people in government spilling the beans as it were are you worried that this government of future governments will be even more reluctant to trust non bureaucrats and non politicians in sensitive positions for fear that eventually they may write what they see they may be in fact once senior editor is close to the BJP said to me that you know because of your book I didn't get a job in the government but don't forget that we know that I was a is officer PC paddock was an IAS officer you know it doesn't require only journalists to be writing on his books when they come out you could be an honest bureaucrat who comes out and says I know I'm going to write my view or my account of what happened and we are a democracy you know writing a book that is published and that is then subject to public scrutiny is not a crime it is there in print in black and white for people to either read not read accept not accept but it said it's an act of democratic assertion I have the right to write you have the right not to read but I have bought okay this author criticized once once somebody's book comes out here yeah or to criticize that that is what democracy is all about and what I have often been surprised about is the people who ask why was this book written why do we even ask that question whatever the reasons I think the scrutiny should be based on does it have facts or not is it a set of you know truths or is it a set of lies you know Iran I think on that ground I would defend every single word and statement in my book is the truth essentially the last question that I wanted to ask was is in some ways a foundational one because the context of the book and you know a lot of what you've written about is that we are a democracy and the Prime Minister is the head of an elected government as a parliamentary democracy in which political parties play a central role what would you say to the argument that it is perfectly healthy for a political party to want to exert control over the functioning of a government which is there in power because the party wins an election right so in 2004 it is the Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi which wins the election hands down and dr. Manmohan Singh has chosen as Prime Minister one can argue about the aesthetics of the way in which this control is his axis is exercised but is there something fundamentally wrong with a political party even on a day to day basis insisting that its priorities and its agenda which after all they say people voted for should be reflected in what the government is doing and the reason I'm asking this is that 10 years later the signature accomplishments of UPA 1 are precisely you know right to information raiga these are things which took birth within the much reviled National Advisory Council and I know that there are many ideas which germinated in the NAC which never saw the light of day because people in government opposed it and shot them down so this fundamental premise of your approach which is that you have tension between party and Prime Minister and that the Prime Minister is the one who's fighting the good fight against interference how accurate is that you know I in fact anticipated this and I have in the book referred to a famous argument between Joella Nehru as Prime Minister of India and arch area Kripalani as president of the Congress party Acharya Kriplani said exactly what you're saying I am the president of the party you have to tell me what you are doing in government and I need to be kept informed Jalal Nehru said that I have been sworn as Prime Minister of the country I have taken oath to the Constitution and so have every member of the cabinet if you want to know what the thinking of the government is before the government comes to Parliament then come and join the government because as the president of the party once the government has taken of you of course it will have to first take the party's permission there are party forums there's a Congress Legislature Party the parliamentary party there are forums in which the government interacts with the party and there are forums in which the government interacts with members of parliament narrow offered Kripalani Minister without portfolio and said you come into the government then I'm willing to share with you what we are thinking but as far as policy is concerned I cannot share with you policy which is still in the making because that comes under the Official Secrets Act and you may be the Congress president but no and this matter was settled what happens after that what happens after that is that right through indra Gandhi's tenure and Rajiv Gandhi's tenure and their Samaras tenure the party president and the Prime Minister are the same person and therefore this question never came up the question which Kripalani and Neruda bated came up under Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh because now again for the first time you had a party president and a prime minister different and the party president actually created an institutional mechanism to guide the government and know you can take two views I mean as you celebrate involved it didn't involve any breach of NS of the OS a no yeah I mean I'm saying that you know you can think of didn't involve visa but the fact is the the institution of the National Advisory Council was a new institution that in a sense guided government policy now you can defend it I mean they can be two views you can defend it I think in many ways it diminished the prestige of the prime minister that was my view and now you can say that no no why why do you say that the Prime Minister's role is to listen to the party president which is precisely the view that the General Secretary of the Communist Party would take we survey the head of government in the communist system and this was the discussion even within the CPM when Jyoti Basu was chief minister and promote Das Gupta was general secretary of the party in Bengal finally after promote Das Gupta passed away Jyoti Basu stopped reporting for the party he ran the virtually the party but you know these are questions that have been debated in the past you know there is no I mean NSE stands out in a way because in the Indian system there is no ongoing manner and which put it the political party quote/unquote gets to deliberate and in a way direct no I'm saying that you know you have party conferences in the UK for example Labour Party conference conservative which even which even know but I'm saying not in the same way no no but why you could the party could have had them here nothing prevents you from having there are consultative committees there are nothing prevents you from having political mechanisms and as he was not that way a political mechanism it was a non political mechanism interfering or interacting with the gum which made which made recommendations are not ongoing some of which were accepted and and stood the government in good stead others which were rejected could have put them all into the Planning Commission I mean you know this mechanism after all Nehru when Nehru created the Planning Commission the same criticism was made by those who did not like the idea of the Planning Commission because they said the Planning Commission is not a constitutional body jerilyn aru invented the Planning Commission and and the critics of Nehru said but this is not a constitutional body so in in that sense the NSE was also not a constitutional body so at these two non constitutional bodies you know advising government no no but I mean the reason I'm saying is that in a way whether we speak of the NSE the forms of you know party intervention they at least sprang from a party which won an election unlike say other forms of remote government Springs from the party that will say this is true this is true but a balancing party has the right to review the functioning of government on an ongoing basis provided as you say the OSA is not breached you know first of all every party has a right to do that and there are party forums that should do that the government is a product of the party you know to think that the government is something independent or different from the party is wrong and I think the issue is not party versus government the issue really is what is the nature of the relationship and in this case the fact is that the chairperson of the UPA became the senior person a person and that is a criticism I make now you can disagree with my view I have no problem with that but that my view was that in some ways that diminished the stature of dr. Singh you know is it the aesthetics also that were a problem the fact that there was a dynastic element here which actually made this tension between party and government even more exaggerated you think that you think that was in the absence of mother daughter mother son if you had a kind of the normal tension between for example during watch Pais time they have in fact one could argue that the RSS was not even an elected body it never presented itself publicly yet was calling or trying to call the shots from behind the scenes here at least the mother and daughter and the mother and son and the party had an elected status so I mean look that's what I'm saying the this whole issue was debated by Nehru and Kripalani what should be the nature of the relationship between government and the party and it it keeps coming up I'm sure it will come up and I'm pretty sure at the state level look at the number of states in which governments are run by families or when individuals everywhere everywhere I mean you take DMK you take jelly with her you take you know moolah I'm seeing you take no wait Mamta is running of government you know so you know incidentally this was an issue between Thackeray and Manohar Joshi when monotheist so it's so much wider problem in this country and I think one needs to talk about it you can take very different views I have no problem with that Sanjaya thanks a lot you've been very kind and answering our questions dr. burrows book The Accidental prime minister deals with a whole range of issues with I would I would say some degree of nuance particularly this question of the tension between a prime minister and the political party whose government he heads at the center but if you're looking for nuance if you're looking for discussion and balance sadly you won't find it in the film version of dr. burrows book The Accidental prime minister but the issues raised in the book certainly are worth debating are worth discussing again thank you very much for for being with us and thank you for watching this do tune in to the wire dot in for other such interviews thank you to receive instant updates on all videos from the wire click the subscribe button and hit the bell icon play to support independent journalism click the link in the description and choose the amount you want to pay you

46 replies on “Exclusive: The Author of The Accidental Prime Minister, Sanjaya Baru, Speaks Out”

Well balanced answers given by Mr. Baru. The best part is he openly agreed that it is his views when he is in PMO and he can take responsibility for his book and not the film. I have not read the book yet, but yes it is in my interest now. Hell yes, that every bureaucrat should also paint there point of views so that people in public would be able to know the culture and drama behind the scenes of there work environment.

Siddhartha is such a fucking cunt. The wrinkled little shit has no shame when asking about "kiss and tell". To write the truth is your job you fucking propagandist. What sort of questions is your diseased mind framing?

Hi siddarth did RSS involve itself in scams like NAC of sonia was involved in. By the way RSS was not funded by Govt of India unlike NAC so mr siddarth keep your impoverished arguments to yourself and your subservient attitude to cong is clearly visible hence forth dont pretend to be neutral journalist.

Disaster Prime Minister.Siddarth why are you so pity/sympthtix about PM, he is a head of the family.Is ir not his duty to have control over his kids.becauarvof his weakness every has misutilised their positions.Is pmo officials carrying files to NAC and in turn acting on chits by NAC really makes one feel how PM was insulated

I don't think baru betrayed mms. mms was hurt due to baru because he revealed all the truth. and mms was very reticent person who do not want to let truth come out and cause any discomfort to gandhi family.


Vardarajan is a bright man, but because of the undying loyalty to the Family displayed by him and people like him from the Lutyen's circus, people have lost faith in them and have started listening to right of centre news channels

It's painful to watch the movie not because it's propaganda but how badly a prime minister of India was treated by the ruling family and how can a man take up so much abuse, holding the highest office in the country.
I think Manmohan Singh did not like confrontation and the family very well knew this and used it to their advantage.

I feel like puking seeing how much this interviewer absolutely LOVES the Gandhis. An entire movement of RTI which had so many civil societies involved in it stands utterly derided when this buffoon of an interviewer says 'All thanks to NAC for RTI'.
And they talk about propaganda done by other people. What are you 'The Wire'?

After seeing the constant badgering of Mr Vardarajan to get Mr Baru to parrot his views makes me feel that the film is probably not as much as a piece propaganda as it is made out to be. I think even Arnab Goswami does not interrupt his interviewees as much

Gentleman interviewer you have failed in your mission. When you say that you have read the book and seen the movie; why you seek confirmation of your opinion from the author just to project the movie as a propaganda vehicle.

I am a Modi supporter. I must say that even though the act by Anupam Kher as Dr Singh was decent and maybe even good, the overall movie was a disappointment.
Somehow the movie does not seem to be getting its holistic view right. It places 2 much emphasis on Constant tussle between NAC and govt.

All said and done, it cannot be denied that there is truth to people saying that Dr Singh was spineless as he was 2 soft on politically hot potato issues. As a PM, his stamp should have been final on all policies. Unfortunately, his soft spoken nature exacerbated his downfall.

2 more points are that it cannot be denied that the so called mother son duo consider Congress party and India as their personal fiefdom. Congress party is simply not realising the way it is failing not just itself but the country at large by still hanging on to the Gandhi clan! Somehow people seem to be euphoric about the entry of Mrs Vadra now! If anything, it’s a sad day for Congress at large!

Even if u ask a non bjp, non Modi supporter, the country by and large thinks that the Gandhi clan is synonymous with corruption and mal governance! Simply attacking Modi and not portraying your vision for country wont really help Congress!

When Rahul could have given an opportunity to the next generation of congress leadership after winning the historic elections in Hindi heartland he chose to make 70+ year olds as CM’s. sending a flippant twitter msg at 8am in the morning not really help congress. When important decisions are supposed to be made, this is where Rahuls immaturity comes to the fore.

The last point being that journalists like Siddharth of the Wire very proudly display at the end of the programme to support “independent journalism”, but if u look at the interview, it has become abundantly clear hearing the questions where the so called “independent journalists” allegiances lie! Everything is a critique.!

There’s no objectivity left in journalism. Swarajya supports BJP and “independent journalists” like Wire support Congress. What irritates me is that hypocrites like this above journalist think of us Indians as idiots and who do not know what’s going on.

Wire’ s attempts to ‘wire’ Baru completely misfired! Liked the way Baru handled with calmness and maturity – the biased prejudiced mind & line of questioning by Siddarth. Never found any traces of objectivity or balance in Siddarth! One cannnot expect too! Excellent work Baru!

The interview feels like someone trying to cover their bits when they suddenly realise that they came out in public not wearing anything. Feel sorry for the Wire.

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