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The Accidental Prime Minister (The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  5,115 ratings  ·  552 reviews
In 2004 Sanjaya Baru left a successful career as chief editor of the Financial Express to join Manmohan Singh as his media adviser. Singh and Baru had been close and Baru, a great admirer of the technocrat who had ushered in the 1991 reforms, saw this as an opportunity to help a man he admired lead India down a new path. As Singh’s ‘eyes and ears’ and self-appointed ‘consc ...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published April 2014 by Viking
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Mansi yes it does show him in a very positive light. only towards the end is there any indication of the "paralysis"…moreyes it does show him in a very positive light. only towards the end is there any indication of the "paralysis"(less)

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Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Contrary to what others feel, my respect for Dr. Manmohan Singh which had reached its lowest point has been revived and has only increased.

While all the reviews say that this book says what was largely known, my review aims to tell the readers that why they should read this book.

Any book that you read teaches you something drawing from the life lessons and experiences of the writer. The Accidental Prime Minister.. does exactly that and between the lines you will find many takeaways whether you a
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar....
... I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar

I am firmly of belief that a no better parallel came be drawn to this book than wh
Anil Swarup
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
After reading the book one could easily come to the conclusion that the difference between UPA1 and UPA2 was the media advisor. Dr Singh (Manmohan Singh)was tutored, educated, built and defended by this media advisor during UPA1. Hence Dr Singh succeeded, as did UPA1 despite enormous shortcomings. The whole book is in poor taste. Perhaps the initial attempt was to project Dr Singh as a hero and the fall-guy but once Baru could not be brought on board again, he goes on to question his "hero" for ...more
Ranjeev Dubey
May 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Who can afford to not read the biggest publishing phenomenon in India in the last decade? As if that was not enough, who can afford to not read the first of a whole genre of books that has not till now existed in India i.e. people who work with powerful politicians and then talk about it? For these reasons alone, you would want to check this book out no matter what the reviews say.

Having said that, here are my thoughts:

1. The books reads well. It should. The author is a senior journalist.

2. Thi
Sujash Baid
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A helpless Bheeshma of our times!

This book is the first of a kind which provides an insiders account to how things unfolded during the first tenure of the UPA government. it also throws light on the personality of Dr. Manmohan Singh and how he managed to run the coalition. This book is an account of how a good, wise and a learned man was put on the wrong side defending a disreputable lot. Manmohan Singh is the case of a person who has been stabbed time and again by his colleagues, by the fellow
Hajarath Prasad Abburu
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good and mostly accurate memoir of a journalist turned media advisor to the only Congress Prime Minister to serve two full terms hailing from a Non Nehru-Gandhi family.

It's a very tricky book to write considering how it isn't a swansong or even a work of hatred. The author was mostly balanced and tried to remain objective in judging the Prime Minister and others.

Good read for people who would like to read about the inner workings of South Block and who want to know more about the behind
Deepak Rao
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
After reading the book I can only say that media reports have been very selective while reporting about this book. Undue emphasis has been given on the latter part of the book's title while deciding on the theme of these reports.

My respect for Dr. Singh has only increased after reading the book. In fact it is the writer himself, who has ended up cutting a sorry figure of a cunning, disloyal and highbrow person. Every great man has certain failings which are often retrospectively attributed to hi
Amit Tyagi
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sanjaya Baru needs to be praised for taking the bold (some may say, controversial)step of deciding to write this book. Our politicians and bureaucrats prefer to take the refuge of sensitive matters and official secrets in order to justify their decision of not coming out with their memoirs. But, this is precisely the kind of transparency that we need, of a view inside the corridors of power, who lobbies for whom, what motivates the various characters and so on.

Coming to the book, Sanjaya Baru de
Muhammed Vaseem
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This book gives an insight on the works and duties of a Prime minister and tells us how major decisions are taken by the authorities. I realised how hard is it for a government to formulate new policies considering the political compulsions and limitations of coalition parties. This book portrays Manmohan Singh as an honest intellectual politician who was highly devoted to the nation but lacked the political will power( particularly in UPA 2). The book also tells us about the various instances w ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Loads and loads of information, and many times, about unimportant events.
Tons of name droppings and glorification of one's own contributions.
Poor story-telling to hold the attention of the reader.
Deliberate shunning of controversial subjects.

I thought I would gain some insider's view in to the workings of one of the makers of Modern India ( I doubt if there are any critics of his 1991 economic reforms), who became a laughing stock as a lame-duck/puppet prime minister as the opposition labeled
Anashuya Kakati
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book gives a clear idea about how complex it is to run a government. There are so many participants, all precariously strung together, and contrary to public opinion 'the first among the equal' is not, in fact, the most powerful. Though Dr. Singh was more submissive than an usual PM, but I feel even a PM with a majority would have as many factions in his own party to keep happy.

For the common man, who demands changes in 100 days, this book is a MUST. Running a government is a mammoth task an
Santhosh Guru
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
A little laborious read, if you are following-up the politics of India for the last decade. It is laborious not because of the style of writing but the content. The entire book tries to say that Manmohan Singh is an honest, gentleman politician and an able economist, became a prime minister but could not wield his power because omnipotent Sonia controlling him and the government.

Manmohan Singh's vision on external affairs and relationship with Pakistan is really a key take away for me from this
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting account of the 'inner-workings' of the UPA1 government by a seasoned editor(little UPA2).Dr Singh,despite being the most 'qualified' politician in the world,struggled with the public perception of being a weak Prime Minister throughout his two terms.The book tells us why the perception was wrong and right.A must read for anyone interested in Indian politics. ...more
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
An insider's story into what transpired during UPA-1.

It is no secret that Dr. Manmohan Singh was the accidental Prime Minister. Sanjay Baru was not just his media advisor, he was also a trusted confidant.

The book presents an hitherto unseen image of Dr. Singh. Personally speaking, it improved my image of Dr. Singh. It presents his political acumen - rather the fact that he had any political acumen at all. As Digvijay Singh once said - "I don't know if he's an over-rated economist; but I do know
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the words of Dr. Manmohan Singh, "I honestly believe that history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media, or for that matter, the Opposition parties in Parliament..". And this cannot be more true. It so happens that the good work done by someone of his calibre is hidden away in the din of noises of useless media chatters and other sycophantic voices. Dr. Singh was and will always remain a charm for his his intellect, his humane persona, his gentle and civil conduct, his political in ...more
Aruna Kumar Gadepalli
Easy and quick read.
The book contains 13 chapters excluding Introduction and Epilogue.
In the introduction the author announces various aspects like why he is writing the book what the books deals with and the what are the sources and the maintaining anonymity of the sources in case if anyone asked to do so. on the whole the book deals with various aspects beginning form the elections of 2004 and the UPA-1 to his leaving of office from PMO as the media adviser.

Why I started reading this book.
Sudheendra Chaitanya
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
To those of us who have no inkling of what happens in the top corridors of government, how power is viewed from within, how decisions are taken, how human ambition meets the most important issues that face the country, this book is quite a revelation. It appears matter-of-fact. 'Look, this is how it is', kind of things.

That top decisions are never about morality or rightness, but they are the output of a few humans jostling for power and limelight, is another thing worth seeing.

We need to see
Prabhjot Kaur
I always heard about Dr. Manmohan Singh from my father and other older relatives how he was the best economist India had ever seen. Dr. Manmohan Singh came up with the idea of having an open economy. I have read a lot about Dr. Manmohan Singh much like the other Indians and yes everyone has always said that he was controlled by the Gandhi family that he was merely a puppet but the Gandhi family was pulling the strings. Of course I have heard these things from so many other Indians yet I never di ...more
Girish Shilamkar
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book a must read for anyone interested in Indian politics.
Sanjay Baru tries to answer the question in the minds of millions of Indians, how Singh who was once hailed as King (after nuclear deal with US) reduced himself to an object of ridicule. Most of the book describes PM's work done during UPA-!. That is the period when Mr. Baru was PM's media adviser. And tries to guess why PM did not resign during UPA II.
Dr Singh's contribution of economic liberalisation (Mr. Rao played a bigger role h
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a blow by blow account of the turn of events in PMO during UPA-1. I have never read such an interesting piece of literature which combines history, current affairs along with psychology. To an extent Manmohan Singh`s introverted personality as well his inability to assert his convictions or views, is due to bad childhood experiences which is hardly talked about in this book. This book is a must read for any person interested in politics, current affairs of the political landscape of our ...more
Vikas Datta
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Riveting account of happenings in the corridors of high powers, of turf battles, of a fractious opposition, of (some) double-dealing allies, or a party that failed to put its full support behind a man who accomplished much and could have risen to become one of India's greatest leaders had he been a little firmer in his second term... doesn't portray some leading lights of the party very well and that may account of their angry outbursts.. ...more
Manas Saloi
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nice book on the workings of the PMO.
Abhijeet Aanand
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This one had been on the list since long and much to my expectations, Sanjaya Baru does an excellent job in bringing out the statesman inside Dr. Manmohan Singh. This book has brought in a profound change in my opinion about Dr. Singh which was initially highly skewed due to his approach in his second term.

Most of the hardcore political analysts would hardly find anything substantial in the book but for those who are not acquainted with the scene going inside the corridors, this book would be an
Amit Bagaria
Having been the editor of India's top 3 financial newspapers and the author of an earlier book, Sanjaya Baru was no Accidental Author, like me, and has written this book very well, in simple, everyday language, unlike Dr Shashi Tharoor.

There is one major error in the book. Twice, he says that Indira Gandhi won the 1971 Lok Sabha elections on the back of (in the aftermath of) the victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak (or Bangladesh) War. The 1971 elections were held in arch, nine months before the War.

Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to India's former Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, numerous number of doubts and questions float in the mind of people. Dr.Manmohan Singh has a stunning education background,vast experience as professor in top class universities and also in government agencies like planning commission . He was also a former reserve bank governor and has major role in rescuing India from inflation crisis in 1970s and balance of payment crisis in 1991. He was the major architect of liberalization in ...more
Minakshi Ramji
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I were to be honest, this book caught my eye in the airport bookstore only because of the controversy around the movie. But so glad that it did. I don't know why I was surprised because I am such a news/ information junkie -- but the book was in equal parts entertaining, exasperating, depressing, and hugely moving experience for me. Still waiting for Indian politics to inspire me I guess. Amazing picture of how things actually work in the corridors of power and a nuanced portrait of someone w ...more
Arunayan Sharma
The narrated events of first term of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister of India by author are somehow overrated and mixed up with his own personal information and experiences. The author wanted to project himself great and important personality in PM' life by this book. ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable read. The author's admirations and frustrations for our former PM got to me as well. Also provides an insight into the workings of the PMO. ...more
Himanshu Khurana
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
The Accidental Prime Minister is a much ‘discussed, debated, ridiculed and praised’ piece of authorship in large part because of the timing of its publication which was just before the 2014 General Elections and also due to its purported goal of rehabilitating the legacy and work of the former Prime Minister-the only one to have served two full five year terms after Nehru. The controversial nature of the book arises from the fact that it is one of the few committed attempts to investigate the na ...more
Jaydeep Kulkarni
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an absolutely excellent book. I recommend to anyone interested in politics or who want to absorb more trivia knowledge about UPA-1 Government and Dr.Manmohan Singh.
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Sanjaya Baru is an Indian political commentator and policy analyst, currently serving as Director for Geo-Economics and Strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Previously he had served as associate editor at The Economic Times and The Times of India, and then chief editor at Business Standard. His father B. P. R. Vithal served as Finance and Planning Secretary during former P ...more

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Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
89 likes · 15 comments
“He was the first prime minister in a long time who did not have a son or a son-in-law in business or real estate” 8 likes
“One of his favourite couplets, by the poet Muzaffar Razmi, which he quoted on more than one occasion, in Parliament and to Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, was: ‘Ye jabr bhi dekha hai, taareeq ki nazron ne / Lamhon ne khata ki thi, sadiyon ne saza payi’ (Much injustice / has been seen in the saga of history / When for a mistake made in a moment we are punished for centuries).” 4 likes
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