Saturday, 4 April 2015

Mandate : Will of the People - Book Review


Veer Sanghvi's Mandate : Will of the People is an interesting read. Spread over the elections ranging from the year 1971 to the latest mandate of 2014 the book rivets you to your seats through incidents which shaped the future of the nation.

The book says that Pandit Nehru never chose Indira as his successor. It was Shastriji who inducted her as a information and broadcasting minister. The book says that Shastriji and Indiraji had little love for each other. The book says that Shastriji had a minor heart attack. This was new for me. Could that have been a reason for his sudden death abroad? Perhaps we will never know. The book is full of such nitty-gritty.

According to the author Indiraji was not chosen for the job of Prime Minister because she was brilliant, but actually because she was quite the opposite. She was unable to read her first speech properly and all the foreign correspondents made fun of her. It was she who sowed the seeds of dynastic politics, minority appeasement and charisma of the leader overshadowing the party.

For the first time I heard that there were any good effects of the emergency. According to the author it brought the tanking economy back on track and ensured better law enforcement. Further he says that the target of the Sikh violence which followed Indiraji's death were not the burly Jat Sikhs who were in a position to defend themselves but the slightly built Mazhabi Sikhs who were vulnerable.

Then came the Rajiv era. Much before the BJP used the media for advertisments, Rajiv Gandhi had used it. He had hired a prominent company named Rediffusion from Mumbai and given it a free hand in making the advertisements. The book claims Rajiv corrected the mistakes committed by his mother and brought the north-east population into the main stream.

The book also speaks about the infamous bofors deal and the ouster of Indiraji loyales Pranab Mukherjee and RK Dhawan.

After reading the book you will realize that even before Dr. Manmohan Singh there have been many accidental prime ministers. One of them actually managed to settle the Babri Masjid dispute by talking to both the communities. But Rajiv Gandhi asked to postpone the decision for two days and in the meantime withdrew his support to the government. The book also speaks about prime ministers of India and Pakistan who had almost settled the Kashmir issue. The books claims that the BJP perfectly timed the Ram Jana Bhoomi issue in order to gain from the popularity of the Ramayan television series.

Shankar Dayal Sharma's refusal to take up the post of Prime Minister on account of his failing health, was another addition to my knowledge by this book. The books says that Sonia's heart indeed went out for the poor and she made Manmohan Singh to change his mind with regard to the subsidies to the poor. However at the same time the book claims both of them behaved as if their allies had a right to make money during their tenure at the office.

The writing of the book is simple yet crisp and riveting. Unnecessary details, jargons are avoided. The book runs into mere 137 pages and is indeed a page turner. There is no any reason cited as to why the writer chose not to touch the pre 1971 era. The foreword by Amish is definitely out of place. The author even says that Amish had initially refused to write it.

The conclusions which follow after reading the book are no party is a saint and all parties are ever ready to draw leverages from all the possible natural, mandate calamities and circumstances. So this trip of four decades of the world's biggest democracy is indeed an eye opener and hence worth taking.

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