Capricious and obsessively secretive: Natwar on Sonia

Last Updated: Thu, Jul 31, 2014 12:56 hrs

The forthcoming book by Natwar Singh, who was an acolyte of the Gandhi family for more than three decades is likely to embarrass Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The book, titled One Life is Not Enough: An Autobiography by former external affairs minister Natwar Singh is due to be released on Friday.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the autobiography has a five-page epilogue, in which Singh says Sonia's achievement is the reduction of one of the greatest political parties into a "rump" of 44 members in the Lok Sabha.

The report says: "Natwar, once a close Gandhi family confidant, has written that while his hounding and harassment continues, “Sonia Gandhi can neither run nor hide”. And on Sonia’s own comment that she had felt betrayed by him, he writes, “It was a case of the pot calling the kettle black.”

There is an entire chapter on Sonia in Natwar’s memoirs, in which he describes her as “every biographer’s dream” but a “prima donna” who has evolved over the years from being a diffident, nervous, shy woman to being ambitious, authoritarian, capricious and obsessively secretive. In the conclusion to this section, he writes that “her public image is not flattering… politics has coarsened her”.

Natwar Singh also told Karan Thapar in an interview that Sonia Gandhi being an historical personality is not entitled to privacy, suggesting that he may be revealing some embarrassing details.

Singh, who fell out with the Gandhis when he had to quit the Manmohan Singh Cabinet in 2005, also said that Sonia and her daughter, Priyanka, visited him in May this year, after eight years of having kept little contact with him, and suggested he drop few incident from his memoirs.

In the book, Singh has made several revelations about the period from 1991 to 2005, including how after Rajiv’s assassination in 1991 it was not P V Narasimha Rao but Shanker Dayal Sharma who was Sonia’s choice as the next prime minister. It was only after Sharma, then vice-president of India, declined that Rao was approached on the advice of P N Haksar, another Gandhi family confidant.

But relations between Rao and Sonia were rarely smooth. He revealed details of clandestine meetings at Mohammad Younus’ home when Rao as PM appeared without security to seek Younus’ help in improving relations with Sonia.

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