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Neerja Chowdhury on Indian politics, Modi vs Indira years, Rahul as PM

Her book explores how different prime ministers operated and what influenced their policies.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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In her new book, How Prime Ministers Decide, author Neerja Chowdhury has walked down the corridors of history to illustrate how the different Prime Ministers of India operated, and what influenced them and shaped their policies.

In a conversation with Manisha Pande, the author talks about the aspects that set apart Indira Gandhi’s era as the PM. She says, “Indira Gandhi had the ability to take risks… and unlike her father, she was not ideological.”  She narrates an incident where Gandhi told a UP leader, “Mera baap sant tha, main nahi hoon (My father was a saint, but I am not).”

Chowdhury says one “can only conjecture” where India and the Congress would have been if Sanjay Gandhi was alive. She delves into Arun Nehru’s revelation about the Bofors scam, who stopped Sonia Gandhi from assuming the charge of the Prime Minister in 2004 and how Manmohan Singh did not give up on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

“It was Rahul who prevented Sonia Gandhi from becoming the Prime Minister... dadi died, was killed, his father was killed, he said, ‘In six months you will be killed and that you have 24 hours to decide, if you go ahead, I will do something drastic’,” said Chowdhury, adding that Sonia Gandhi didn’t want Rajeev Gandhi to come into politics, but she wanted Rahul to get into it.

The veteran journalist also spoke about the significance of Rahul Gandhi in the Congress and if he was suitable for the prime ministerial post, commonality of durbar politics, need for stronger institutions, and the juxtaposition of Indira Gandhi’s emergency and Narendra Modi’s purported “undeclared emergency”.

She said: “Media, institutions and the judiciary are under pressure… but during the emergency, you and I could not be talking like this.” 

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