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Natwar's claims will hugely help Modi

Last updated on: July 31, 2014 14:34 IST

Some analysts believe that it suits Prime Minister Narendra Modi at this stage to debunk the image of Sonia Gandhi as a woman who declined the prime ministership of the country with great personal sacrifice, just as it would suit him to portray Rahul as a coward who was afraid his mother would be killed --  claims made by former Union minister Natwar Singh in his yet-to-be-released book. Rediff.com contributor Renu Mittal reports.

Former Union minister Natwar Singh has set the cat amongst the pigeons by attacking both the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on the issue of why she did not accept the prime ministership of the country in 2004.

While it was widely believed that Sonia sacrificed the chair, Natwar Singh, a former close confidante of the Gandhis, writes in his upcoming autobiography that she gave up the PM’s chair because her son Rahul was against the idea and he felt that if she became the prime minister she too would be killed like his father (Rajiv Gandhi) and his grandmother (Indira Gandhi) -- both former prime ministers.

In the same breath, Natwar attacks Rahul that he is a coward who wanted to cling onto mummy and did not want her killed, so she must not be prime minister.

While Singh’s autobiography is releasing on August 7, he has revealed this in an interview to a television channel along with other details of what has been written about in the book.

Natwar Singh also mentions that in a late night meeting in which he, Dr Manmohan Singh, Suman Dubey, Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi were present, Priyanka articulated her brother Rahul’s feelings and said he is insistent that she must not be the prime minister.

Natwar Singh was known to be extremely close to Sonia Gandhi when the United Progressive Alliance I government was formed, and while Dr Manmohan Singh was made the prime minister, he was given the external affairs portfolio.

However, after the oil for food scam broke out in which Natwar Singh was cited as a beneficiary, he was asked to resign. Natwar Singh refused to quit and in the process his relations with Sonia soured when he tried to pressurise her into letting him stay. Finally Natwar Singh had an ignominious exit from the government.

Interestingly, Singh also reveals that in May this year Sonia and Priyanka visited him and asked him not to include the bit about the prime ministership. But he appears to have decided to go ahead with it.

Natwar Singh’s son Jagat is now a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Rajasthan, while he himself is no longer in the Congress party.

Natwar Singh has waited for a decade to publish his book, especially after the Congress’ poll debacle.

However, unlike former PMO media adviser Sanjay Baru, who in his book had attacked Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, Natwar at least waited till the Congress party was voted out of power.

Some analysts believe that it suits Prime Minister Narendra Modi at this stage to debunk the image of Sonia Gandhi as a woman who declined the prime ministership of the country with great personal sacrifice, just as it would suit him to portray Rahul as a coward who was afraid his mother would be killed.

Certainly, Natwar’s book portrays neither of them in a heroic light.

Meanwhile, the Congress has dismissed Natwar Singh’s claims and dubbed them as “ridiculous”. Party’s media chairman Ajay Maken said that it had become a fashion to make such claims to increase the sales of a book, adding the claims do not deserve a comment.

But the fact is that because of Natwar Singh’s past proximity with the Gandhi family, he has spoken on a number of issues including former PM Narasimha Rao, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and various contemporary events in his book which would be in the news pages in the days ahead -- leading to charges and counter-charges between the Congress and other political parties, mainly the BJP.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi