In Archeology, they say, you uncover the unknown. And in politics you cover the known. But once you are away from the limelight of politics, you become an ‘archeopoligist’ - someone who loves to uncover the known. A great way to uncover the known is to publish a memoir. With the regime change, the disgruntled loyalists have gathered enough courage to come up with such memoirs.
In four days, Natwar Singh’s autobiography has sold 50,000 copies. With sales kissing the sky, the publisher is going in for re-prints. Wonder who is buying the book. I doubt if the aam janta is really interested in knowing about Sonia’s tumultuous inner conscience. People know that politics is not for saints. In public memory, the halo of her renunciation faded with the tightening grip of the remote control. That her word was the last word in the party is known. That she was cold towards Narasimha Rao is also known. Revelations about US interference, ally anger and power equations hold journalistic interest, but the common man remains unconcerned.
However, a scandalous political memoir provides enough fodder for the television channels. If interviewing Natwar was not enough, Karan Thapar grilled Mani Shankar to confirm whether Sonia is actually stern or ruthless. Perhaps it is the enigma surrounding her that intrigues journalists. Sometimes I feel that a book is of little importance unless it is dissected on television. Since most channels were dissecting the memoir, Natwar Singh realized that ‘One Life Is Not Enough’. God bless his intellect, he now plans to write a spicier sequel ‘My Irregular Diary’ with ‘more disclosures’. After drinking copious power pegs, political ignominy can be nerve racking. On the other hand, the media spotlight coupled with sales can be truly inspiring.
Now that the Mrs. Gandhi plans to write a memoir, the media is salivating at the prospect. The television journalists can froth at the mouth, but I doubt if Sonia, unlike Baru or Natwar will take the television route. The family has paid a huge price for that one historic Times Now interview.
Needless to say, a personal diary is not personal anymore. Sharmistha Mukherjee, the President’s daughter told a news channel that her father would not reveal the details of his forty year old diary. My daddy will not do a Natwar, she says. Which means that her father has something to say but he won’t? Why so? Wink. Wink. Forget it, we know. It may also mean that she is issuing a veiled warning! We don’t know.
Meanwhile Manmohan Singh’s daughter, Daman Singh, defends her father in, ‘Strictly Personal, Manmohan & Gursharan’. When Karan Thapar interviewed the lady in, 'Nothing But The Truth' on Headlines Today, she gave away nothing. Not a word about Dr. Singhs working relationship with Sonia Gandhi. The book is unlikely to create a buzz, given that it is an innocuous biography minus the scandals.
The truth is that when an author views his own life from a high perch, the ego is likely to overshadow reason. The temptation of self indulgence is so overpowering that you tend to highlight your own triumphs. And when you do so, you are likely to step on neighboring toes. Finally, all these political memoirs will end in ‘my word against yours’.
Revenge, a Bollywood motif, is being played via memoirs, albeit with a twist. Unlike the producers, it is the publishers who are making the moolah.