“If I were to change three things in the way the Congress ran the government, I would say a) there should be no corruption b) there should not be a diarchy, only one power centre c) the functioning of the government should be transparent and should include family planning.”
If anyone could write about the Congress and, by natural extension, the Gandhi family, it was Mr. Natwar Singh. A former staunch loyalist of the party, Mr. Singh has had close association with the Gandhi family. In the words of Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer, “He was literally kidnapped from New York and jetted in Indira Gandhi’s aeroplane to New Delhi to work as an under-secretary in her office in the immediate wake of her becoming prime minister”.
Mr. Natwar Singh served the Congres dutifully for around 20 years, albeit with minor speed bumps. However, this alliance ended in an unceremonious manner with Mr. Singh being dismissed and shunned from the Congress and by natural extension, from the Gandhis, due to the Oil for Food scandal. The doors to the Congress High Command were shut and bolted.
One Life Is Not Enough, Mr. Singh’s autobiography, hit the shelves this August, and it sent shockwaves across Janpath and Raisina Hill. The book serves as a riveting account of Mr. Singh’s encounters with our political class, with special reference to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Manmohan Singh. The charges made by the book have fuelled television debates with commentators – depending on their political leanings – either praising Natwar Singh for his “courageous account” or completely dismissing his book as the “rant of a disgruntled insider.
Whatever the news channels say, Mr. Natwar Singh, true to his Stephanian roots, is sure to have a few politically incorrect statements and a plethora of interesting anecdotes to share. The octogenarian Stephanian has and is facing criticism for taking too long to pen down his thoughts but he says he has nothing to lose. As he summarises his long and winding journey in the last lines of his book: “Soon I shall drift out of the harbour on a silent tide beyond the beat of time.”