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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Saleability, not politics, basis of Baru’s book timing: Penguin

Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 13, 2014
First Published: 01:21 IST(13/4/2014) | Last Updated: 11:24 IST(13/4/2014)

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former aide Sanjaya Baru’s revelations in his book, ‘The Accidental Prime Minister — The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh’, created a controversy, the book’s timing has drawn polarised reactions.

While the Congress has called it politically motivated, its publisher Penguin rejected the accusation. One senior source in publishing suggested it was driven by commercial concerns since interest in Singh would diminish post-polls and a controversy now would increase visibility and sales.

Reacting angrily, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted, “Baru’s book, its timing, and the fact that the publisher is the same who withdrew Wendy Doniger’s book is intriguing.” He called Baru a ‘disgruntled turncoat, writing cheap fiction, a rank opportunist whose PMO contract wasn’t renewed for incompetence’.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, who served as an aide to PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, termed Baru’s decision to publish his book at this time ‘highly unethical’. Activist Kiran Bedi, however said it could not have come at a ‘better time, to punish the Congress’.

When asked about the timing, Baru told HT, “I would rather discuss the contents of the book. I don’t owe anyone any explanation on the timing.” In a separate interview to CNN-IBN, Baru said the timing was decided by the publisher, and that the book had been ready for some time now.

While Penguin-Random House publisher Chiki Sarkar did not respond to questions, Caroline Newbury, the company’s vice-president of marketing and corporate communications, told HT, “Publishing cycle depends on manuscript delivery and internal processes. Naturally, you would publish a book when there is peak interest. But there would have been interest in a book like this even later on. There were no other considerations.”


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