Book Review: The Accidental Prime Minister

The accidental prime minister

I finally finished the book that has had tongues wagging from South Block to South India and also, possibly contributed maybe ten odd incremental seats to the NDA. Baru begins the book by justifying his reasons for writing the book (i.e. showing Manmohan in a better light than the internet jokes circulated about him), using the example of foreign civil servants chronicling their service periods with politicians. It is a tragedy that more civil servants do not write about their life and times. I would love to read what the secretaries of Indira or Sonia had/ have to say about them.

What makes The Accidental Prime Minister most interesting is that it is a fly on the wall account of Manmohan Singh’s Prime Ministership. Baru quit the PMO before UPA 2 began; so the account is of the relatively rosier times of UPA 1. However, the book helps one understand where the skeletons that came out in UPA 2 originated. Baru writes quite frankly about the politics of the PMO – the power struggles between PMO officials – and also reveals Sonia’s attempts to pseudo-run the government through the NAC. What strikes one most when reading the account is that Manmohan was actually a brilliant tactician but what dragged him down was an inherent inability to speak effectively in public. His ability to swing the 123 Nuclear Deal with the US and the elaborately intricate maneuvers he resorted to in pushing the deal through, do help one absolve Manmohan of the stains he had suggested history would do for him.

The book becomes something of a drag towards the end with the Nuclear deal part getting over-elaborated. After a point, it seemed like the book was more about the Nuclear deal than Manmohan. But the book is voyeuristic enough, throughout its entirety, to be interesting.

Readable but not a must read… still, the book needs to be read to understand the history of UPA I and how it let our nation down.

Title: The Accidental Prime Minister
Author: Sanjaya Baru
PublisherPenguin Books
Pages: 320
Genre: Non-Fiction/Biography
Rating: 3.25 of 5
Reviewed for: Personal Copy

Browse through the full list of book reviews in the depths of the Pensieve.

This review was first published on

Get your book reviews published on this site. Request a cross post HERE