On the face of it, former Media Advisor to the PM, Sanjaya Baru's book, "The Accidental Prime Minister" does not contain anything new. It is common knowledge that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was almost subservient to the Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
However the book gives us never before insights into the extent to which the PMO's authority was completely eroded during his tenure. Some things mentioned in the book are quite startling.
"Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had regular meetings with Mrs Gandhi, and sought her instructions on important files to be signed by the PM." When Sonia Gandhi, in an extraordinary show of selflessness, did not accept the PM's post after the Congress' astounding victory in 2004, though some saw it as a supreme sacrifice, many people suspected that it was because she wanted power without the accompanying responsibility. This book proves it beyond doubt. For the PMO to be sending files to her for 'instructions' makes me feel embarrassed and angry at the way this august office has been insulted during the last ten years.
The other significant aspect that was brought out was the way the ministers in the cabinet treated the PM. Pranab Mukherjee, in his stint as External Affairs minister did not brief the PM after important meetings with foreign dignitaries. The PM had no clue on what was happening in such an important ministry! Important portfolio allocations were done without even consulting him.
Many other such instances have been documented in the book which leave us ashamed at the way our Government has been functioning all these years.
Any self-respecting person would have resigned when he realised that he was no more than a puppet. Unfortunately Manmohan Singh will go down history as one of the weakest Prime Minister India had. He was also probably the most honest. However, it is not enough to be honest when you are occupying the Prime Minister's chair. It is important to be strong and decisive. This facet of his tenure is likely to be overshadowed by his weakness.
Sonia Gandhi has done a great disservice to the nation by insulting the authority of the PM. She has shown that the Gandhis cannot allow others in the Congress to exercise their authority. She has shown that the Gandhis want complete power, power without the responsibility. In what seems to be an election where the Congress is likely to come up with their worst ever tally, it is unlikely that she or the Congress will learn any lessons. Servitude and a sense of entitlement are in the DNA of the Congress worker and the the first family. And DNA takes more than one election to change.