‘Sonia Gandhi made Manmohan Singh PM as he posed no threat to her son Rahul’: Obama’s ‘A Promised Land’ turns a political hot potato

Former US President Barack Obama’s notes about the Indian political elite, especially the Congress leadership couldn’t have come at a worse time for the grand old party. Obama’s comments on Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul in his memoir ‘A Promised Land’ have become a political hot potato for the Congress which is still nursuing its wounds from the hammering received in the just-concluded Bihar polls. Here’s a look at what Obama says in his memoir.

Why Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan as PM: ‘He was no threat’

“… More than one political observer believed that she’d (Sonia Gandhi) had chosen Singh precisely because as an elderly Sikh with no national political base, he posed no threat to her forty year-old son, Rahul, whom she was grooming to take over the Congress Party.”

On Manmohan Singh as prime minister

“As a chief architect of India’s economic transformation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seemed like a fitting emblem of this progress: a member of the tiny, often persecuted Sikh religious minority who’d risen to the highest office in the land, and a self-effacing technocrat who’d won people’s trust not by appealing to their passions but by bringing about higher living standards and maintaining a well-earned reputation for not being corrupt.”

On Rahul Gandhi, the leader: ‘Wants to impress but lacks aptitude’

“It became clear to me, though, that her power was attributable to a shrewd and forceful intelligence. As for Rahul, he seemed smart and earnest, his good looks resembling his mother’s. He offered up his thoughts on the future of progressive politics, occasionally pausing to probe me on the details of my 2008 campaign. But there was a nervous, unformed quality about him, as if he were a student who’d done the coursework and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject.”

On Manmohan resisting calls to take action post 26/11

“He feared that rising anti-Muslim sentiment had strengthened the influence of India’s main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. ‘In uncertain times, Mr. President,’ the prime minister said, ‘the call of religious and ethnic solidarity can be intoxicating. And it’s not so hard for politicians to exploit that, in India or anywhere else’.”

Some more on Rahul Gandhi

“I wondered what would happen when he (Manmohan) left office. Would the baton be successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother and preserving the Congress Party’s dominance over the divisive nationalism touted by the BJP? Somehow, I wasn’t doubtful. It wasn’t Singh’s fault. He (Manmohan) had done his part…”

Courtesy: Asianet