In poll season a collection of 150 cartoons of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be brought out in a book will be launched not by the man himself but by Shatrughan Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh at a function in New Delhi on Saturday.
The compilation of cartoons titled "No Prime Minister" traces the evolution of Manmohan Singh during his tenure first as a reluctant prime minister to one who became a cartoonist's delight.
Sudhir Tailang, a political cartoonist for over 27 years and who has worked for several publications, said he asked Sinha, the veteran film star, and Amar Singh to do the honours as Manmohan Singh had declined to do so.
"Sinha is a close friend of mine. And Amar Singh because he is the second most important man after the prime minister because it was he who gave Manmohan Singh a second lease of life after the Left parties pulled out the government on the Indo-US nuclear deal," he said.
Tailang said he had approached the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) requesting Manmohan Singh to inaugurate the book, but he got a reply saying it would be "awkward" and "embarrassing" for him to release a book on himself.
"I was immediately reminded of Shankar the famous cartoonist who parodied Pandit Nehru in his weekly. Nehru had told Shankar never to spare him," says Tailang.
"If Manmohan Singh had accepted to inaugurate the book it would have symbolised the beauty of democracy which is to accept criticism. And that did not happen."
"I chose the title deliberately to pun with the satirical British sitcom 'Yes Minister'. You can draw a hundred interpretations from that title I chose, whether we had a prime minister at all in the last five years or if this is the stock answer Congress President Sonia Gandhi gave him for every major decision he wanted to take," said Tailang.
"The cartoons trace the metamorphosis of Manmohan Singh, a person who symbolises the establishment and the powers that be. There are some caricatures of him while he was finance minister during Narasimha Rao's government but essentially it is these five years."
An official of Wisdom Tree, the publishers, said a representative from the PMO would be present on the occasion.