Tales Of 24 Akbar Road
As the existing Congress party represents more or less an unusual dualism in its action, so it’s praiseworthy, the way Rasheed has given good light where the proper works have been done by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv and defiance for the power mongers with akin to rose the rank either “by hook or crook”. Indian National Congress has indeed a unique characteristic of hierarchy which sharply cuts the topmost position for an outsider…sole exception of PV Narasimha Rao (Manmohan Singh is reluctantly at the helm of affairs) was a conditional outcome of tragical spontaneity that arose out of Rajiv Gandhi’s unfortunate assassination in 1991. There were no other reasons, he could have become Prime Minister without the sudden delinking of Gandhi family—when it reinstated, Mr. Rao was sidelined to the level of oblivion. His fall after Sonia’s arrival in politics and unjustified prominence of incapable and odd Sitaram Kesari will remain an indelible blot on the democratic credentials of the Congress party!
Unparalleled prerogatives of Nehru, grace in compatibility with the power of Indira, and modernism of Rajiv have been covered lucidly. Book also tries well to capture the persona of Sanjay Gandhi in a different way. It vehementally articulates its own views instead of chasing stereotypical conceptions, that’s more humane and real. Sanjay, as an impatient child of Indira, had impacted negatively the Indian democracy…he grabbed the forefront of power with mother’s emotional breakdown in 1970’s. That was the result of her high shot intervention in international affairs, particularly in the birth of Bangladesh besides the fading strength of Congress in states. Rise of Communism and growing caliber of Socialist forces were other reasons that made her passed the baton informally into the hands of Sanjay, who kept bad habits of less listening and reading even after that.
Finally with Emergency, Congress showed an arbitrariness in political functioning that tolled it heavy losses. Except South India (South of Vindhya), its position never remained so stable again. Premature death of Sanjay and conditional arrival of Rajiv shaped the further course of Congress. But in the meantime, Indira’s assassination followed by the avoidable communal clashes and bawdy display of personification from tier-II and tier-III leaders bought some murmur of leadership change but ended soon. Owing to the bad personal manoeuvring Pranab Mukherji was shunted under the charge of command that lost prominence he could retrieve only in 1991, after the Rajiv’s sad demise. He displayed this time proper loyalty in favour of Sonia, and still doing so with a greater say in party and government led by the Congress party.
Rasheed has succeeded to establish a broader outline, how the Congress party has been moving over the years through many formative and deformative stages. He made beautiful overtures with the internal nuances of the Congress organisation, especially the detailed classification of party affiliates is worth reading. It is also worth knowing how good or bad democracy exists within India’s largest political party. I will reprise here that historical narration is the best thing with this book, although a big missing also emerges from the same section. In the entire book, there is no mention of Congress high-profile leader from Bihar, Lalit Narayan Mishra, who spearheaded the party organisation in eastern/northern India besides also playing a formidable role in establishing the smooth rapport with Communist bloc during the Cold War era. Ambiguity of his death while serving as the most-effective Railway Minister should also have been taken into account as he remained an unparalleled leader of Bihar after Krishna Singh.
By Atul Kumar Thakur