Barometer: Pulp fiction
A Call To Honour by Jaswant Singh: Senior advocate and former law minister Ram Jethmalani says he should be prosecuted, another senior advocate RK Anand has alleged that cash was paid to the hijackers of IC814 and PM Manmohan Singh says former foreign minister Jaswant Singh should have the ‘decency’ to name the mole in Narasimha Rao’s PMO. Whichever way you look at it, Singh’s book has hit headlines even before its formal launch. Now, wait for the sequel.
Manzil Se Jyada Safar by VP Singh: The former PM’s claim that Jaswant Singh had told him that AB Vajpayee had wanted to leave the BJP in 1987 has been laughed off by Vajpayee. But VP Singh’s memoirs, published this year on his 75th birthday, have riled many in the Congress with its claims that Sonia Gandhi turned down PM post for security concerns (Singh later clarified that she turned it down because she didn’t want to give the BJP a weapon with which to attack the government) and that Rajiv Gandhi had rebuffed an offer by the manufacturers of Bofors to reveal the identity of Indian middlemen.
The Insider by PV Narasimha Rao: The former PM’s life’s work was contained within this autobiographical novel which was intended to be part of a series focusing on events in Rao’s own life. This volume ended with the protagonist becoming chief minister (at roughly the same time as the real life Rao) but later volumes were never completed because of the derision this unwieldy and unreadable novel (rejected by all foreign publishers) attracted. The first version had crude sex scenes (“for him, fornication was like urination”) that were deleted by a kindly editor in the final version.
Reminiscences of the Nehru Age and My Days with Nehru by MO Mathai: Published during the post Emergency boom in political pulp fiction, Mathai’s first book consisted of all the muck that he could remember (or make up) about his days in Nehru’s secretariat. The first volume was notable for his claim that Nehru had an illegitimate child by a woman called Shradha Mata. The second volume was more rubbishy, a crude attempt to capitalise on the bestseller status of the first book. A sidelight consisted of a chapter called She, allegedly about Mathai’s affair with Indira Gandhi (which seems to have existed in his own mind) which was deleted before publication but circulated in Delhi in a photocopy form.
The Untold Story by Gen BM Kaul: Kaul was Jawaharlal Nehru’s protégé who left the army in disgrace after he was held responsible for India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China. As you would expect, this is a long self-serving defense of his own role in the debacle, but it also provides a fly-on-the-wall account of the Nehru government.