Cold print is suddenly looking all hot. For a change, TV channels and sound bytes are relegated to the background.
A few books that hit the stands recently are all the rage this election season. Whether you are reading commercial gains into the timing of their release or plain-speak, they’ve, indeed, created ripples.
Two books -- The Accidental Prime Minister, written by Sanjaya Baru, the former media advisor of Manmohan Singh, and Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and Other Truths by retired IAS officer P C Parakh -- have given a political handle to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to beat the Congress.
The key here is that the publishers just timed their release in the thick of political action. Baru’s book, released last week, has sold out on Flipkart. Parekh’s book, released on Monday, is up for grabs for those who want to make political killing!
Baru writes that the PM was “defanged”, while Parekh says the PM allowed the coal mafia to rule. Many dubbed Baru’s book unethical.
His book is a breach of faith and is released in bad taste, many, including Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said.
“The book stands at the crossroads of betrayal, greed, ambition and sensationalism. The jacket cover says backed with political gossip, that’s what it is – fiction. The timing can only be attributed to political motives,” Singhvi said.
Have these been aptly timed to gain commercial and political gains? Baru himself told dna he didn’t want the book to come out during elections.
“I even told my publishers not to publish it, but they said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already announced his retirement after the elections. Thus, his memoirs will make sense, if the book is released during elections,’’Baru says.
“The timing is indeed politically sensitive, whether motivated by greed or commercial gains. It would not have garnered so much of interest two months later,” Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a senior independent journalist, told dna.
“Certainly, these authors couldn’t have been so naive that they did not realise that this will be used by the opposition against the Congress,” he added.
Another media industry veteran, BG Verghese, said that Baru has been unfairly treated.
“It’s a perfectly honest book. Those who are criticising the book are picking up stray paragraphs from here and there and have not read the book.”
In fact, Baru, says his book is the best defence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an upright, honest man.
“The idea that he has done this at this time to get a few more books sold is rubbish. People can call any time as mischievous,” he said.
“It is election time, no doubts ... sure the publishers are looking at the commercial side by releasing books at this time. However, we are concerned about the contents of the book,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told dna.
“I do not know about the political motives, but certainly there are commercial gains. Everyone is interested in the politics of Congress. Once this government is gone, there will not be that much of interest in
what happened at that point in time. At the moment, everyone is trying to get their books published,” Ajoy Bose, who has written a political biography of Mayawati, told dna.
With two more books waiting to be released, the printed word looks set to be the flavour this election season.
It’s reported that former Election Commissioner SY Quraishi’s is about to release a book next week. Former RAW officer RK Yadav’s book, Mission RAW, is also in the queue.