Among all the Congressmen, PV Narasimha Rao is probably the most under-rated Congressman of modern India. In an earlier article, we found out how he had revived Indian economy in early 1990s and become the architect of modern India, but is unfortunately not acknowledged even by his own partymen:
Today (28th June) being the birth anniversary of PVN, this tribute post is a review of his book launched in 1998.
Aptly titled “The Insider”, the book is like a journal of a political insider, intended to help youngsters understand the intricacies, complexities & hypocrisies involved in Indian politics and gain insights into shaping up of India from 1940s to 1970s. What makes this book special compared to other books, is the simple fact that while journalists like Kuldip Nayar & Rasheed Kidwai have documented the history of Indian politics as “observers” (by watching it from outside), this book is written by a mastermind who was inside the political system itself (insider). If you had enjoyed reading “Banned in India: Reminiscences of Nehru Age” by Mathai, you will find this enthralling and insightful.
PVN’s ruthless writing style which reveals the dark side of politics had invited widespread criticism from all the political parties of India. It is neither an autobiography nor a work of fiction but is a semi-autobiographical work of PVN written in a fast paced narrative style which not only describes the dark side of politics, but sheds light on the evolution of India and Indian politics as well. This book details events from his childhood, to all the way upto early 1970s. His plan was to continue the rest in a sequel which unfortunately never materialized.
The central character of this book is Mr Anand, which seems to be the fictional name of none other than PVN himself. Watching PVN’s interviews related to the book launch is sufficient to conclude that most of the characters were given fictional names due to political compulsions but the events, story-line & the overall gist of the book is indeed real. Here is an interview of PVN with Karan Thapar in which he states the intention behind writing such a “controversial” book:
Coming to the contents of the book, spanning over 600 pages, the author has painstakingly documented the prevailing conditions from the perspective of Anand (i.e PVN himself) right from his childhood in the Nizam ruled Hyderabad, where anyody who aligned with the freedom movement or Gandhian/Nehruvian ideologies were perceived as traitors.
While freedom fighters & citizens were celebrating the birth of a new nation on 15-Aug-1947, Congress workers like Anand (i.e PVN) and his friends were stranded in a forest trying to evade bullets from the Nizam’s army.
Surprisingly throughout the book, he has been pretty candid in admitting his extra marital love relationship with a female politician which began as an “intellectual flirting” in the parliament.
In his signature narrative style, he explains how the poor had entered into a state of disillusionment due to arrogant and greedy politics which had led to an impression that the British rule was better. Following is a short excerpt which conveys the message.
The last few chapters dedicated to Indira’s rise and how she undermined democratic institutions due to reasons which can be traced to the psychology of her inferiority complex during childhood.
Those who are interested to know more about the dark side of Indian politics might find it a gripping read, thanks to the unique narrative style of the author. Personally, although I already had lot of respect towards PVN due to his role in liberalization of Indian economy, my respect towards him further increased multi-fold after reading this book detailing his journey from a rebellion to an intellectual, polyglot and a strategic politician of national stature.