Here’s Why Manmohan, Not Modi, Found a Mention in Obama’s Book

Excerpts on India from the former US President’s book have caused political flutters in India.

2 min read

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participate in a press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, Nov. 8, 2010.

"I have got hold of an advance copy of @BarackObama's #APromisedLand & though I haven't read every page, I did read every bit on India flagged in the Index. Big news: There isn't much. Bigger news: in 902 pages, @narendramodi is not mentioned by name at all" (sic), tweeted Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Monday, 16 November.

Tharoor's tweet caused political flutters, as he went on to say that the first part of former US President Barack Obama's two-part memoir extensively praises former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

However, it is important to point out that Obama’s memoir is actually in chronological order and he may, therefore, have not reached the point in his tenure where he could or would talk about Prime Minister Modi.

"Huge praise for Dr ManMohan Singh who is warmly described as ‘wise, thoughtful, &scrupulously honest’, 'a man of uncommon wisdom& decency' with whom he enjoyed 'a warm & productive relationship' though MMS was 'cautious in foreign policy'. His regard & respect shine through" (sic), Tharoor further said in a series of tweets on the topic.

The book had caused ripples in political circles last week as well as an excerpt with a less-than-flattering description of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi went viral.

"Rahul Gandhi has 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", quoted The New York Times from the book.

Sonia Gandhi also finds mention in the book.

Obama described her as a "shrewd" person with "forceful intelligence" who "listened more than she spoke" and "deferred to Dr. Singh when policy matters came up."

Rahul Gandhi, Obama further writes, "seemed smart and earnest".

Responding to right-wing trolling on the NYT excerpt about Gandhi, Tharoor wrote:

“Difficult to imagine that the Sanghis who have been rejoicing on social media about one sentence in the memoir will draw much comfort from these reflections. They offer a foretaste of what Vol.2 is likely to tell us about India in a post-Manmohan Singh era, when Obama returned.”

As Tharoor himself accepts, this is just the first volume of the former US President's memoirs. The next part may have more mentions of Indian Prime Minister Modi and the present Indian dispensation.

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