Memoir ruffles feathers in India

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 00:00 |
Then-Prime Minister Singh, party President Sonia Gandhi.

Former US President Barack Obama’s descriptions of India’s leaders in his new memoir, A Promised Land, has caused ripples in political circles, with former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh receiving praise.

The book contains his impressions of then-Prime Minister Singh, party President Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi.

Obama describes Singh “as a chief architect of India’s economic transformation” and “a self-effacing technocrat who’d won people’s trust not by appealing to their passions but by bringing about higher living standards and maintaining a well-earned reputation for not being corrupt.”

Obama’s praise for Singh was welcomed by senior Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor.

But it is Obama’s frank and less-than-flattering description of Rahul (above), the 50-year-old heir of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, that drew criticism from Congress party leaders.

Nervous quality

“Rahul Gandhi has a nervous, unformed quality about him as if he were a student who’d done the coursework and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject,” quoted The New York Times from the book.

Rahul Gandhi was defeated twice by Prime Minister Modi in the 2014 and 2019 elections respectively. His grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and father, Rajiv Gandhi, both of whom were assassinated, held the post of prime minister.

Congress leader Tharoor tweeted that Obama did not name Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the book that has caused a flutter in India.

“I have got hold of an advance copy of @BarackObama’s #APromisedLand & though I haven’t read every page, I did read every bit on India flagged in the Index. 

“Big news: There isn’t much. Bigger news: in 902 pages, @narendramodi is not mentioned by name at all” (sic), Tharoor, a member of Parliament from the southern Indian state of Kerala, tweeted.

But the India portion does mention Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Obama writing of his concern about the “divisive nationalism touted by the BJP”.

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