Last week, I received a call from a friend, who keenly initiates a discussion every time I review a book. Without customary Hi or Hello, he asked, “Which one next? I replied, “The Lotus Years.” What followed next was a series of verbal volleys aimed towards me with a common tone “Oh No! BJP not again!”
Author Ashwini Bhatnagar has played a masterstroke by going for this title for his book, which has nothing to do with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its party symbol the ‘Lotus’. Rather it is all about the Congress Party and the most tech-savvy Prime Minister India ever seen until this date, Late Rajiv Gandhi. To set the doubt clear about the title, Rajiv in Hindi means Lotus.
Every chapter of this book unfolds some known and many unknown events as well as circumstances pertaining to those happenings in most clear and narrative manner. One of the strongest elements seen through the writings of Bhatnagar is the expertise as well as seeing it all happen from the close corridors of Fourth Estate.
Understanding the political life in India in the time of Rajiv Gandhi, is of all the more importance for the Congress Party today, who seems to be almost rudderless with a stopgap party president affecting the morale of every party worker all across the country.
As a reader, you are first introduced to Nehru-Gandhi family tree with adequate touch of bloom and winter fall. Author has ensured that the flow of events is not abrupt and one can see the clear sequence when we get to read about Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi each stepping in to shape or contribute in their own way to script their own political destiny. Some by choice, others due to circumstances.
From politically reluctant Rajiv to creating an electoral campaigning history in the country, by hiring a professional advertising agency, the author has tracked down every bit of it that went on to make the Congress as a party driven with futuristic approach.
As you turn pages, one comes across many quotes by Rajiv Gandhi, picked up from his several speeches. Ironically, some of them even today holds true when you think of the current state of the Congress Party and in context to what has been spoken and debated all across India.
During one of the interviews Rajiv Gandhi had said, “The integrity and unity of India is the biggest issue before our party today.” Ironically, more than three decades down the line, besides the nation, the party for which Rajiv toiled day in and day out to give it a realistic facelift continues to battle within themselves for unity, let alone the integrity.
The Lotus Years, is undoubtedly necessary read for every Congressmen, for every student of polity, for anyone and everyone who always wanted to know more about the Gandhi family. It is all about the past Lotus and its beauty in polity.