'Congress wanted to 'retire' Manmohan, but Rahul failed to deliver'
Sanjaya Baru, former media adviser to the prime minister, in his book "The Accidental Prime Minister writes : The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh" (Penguin), that hit the stands Friday.
Manmohan thought there would be more opposition to it in Pakistan and Musharraf would have to deal with political parties, religious groups and the army.
Singh thought in India there would be "a wider constituency of support", including from his party. He though the only real opposition would come from the BJP.
Both Pranab Mukherjee and A.K. Antony, as successive defence ministers in UPA-1, "were reportedly not enthusiastic about a deal on Siachen, though Sonia had blessed the peace formula".
The armed forces were "ambivalent" with retired generals favouring a deal to end the agony of the troops fighting on the glacier but serving generals not willing to trust Pakistan on a deal.
Before the election verdict, "many believed that Dr Singh's face had been printed on the cover of the manifesto and on election posters so that the expected defeat in that election could be explained away as his defeat and Rahul Gandhi, whose picture was not printed on the party manifesto or posters, could then claim leadership as the agent of change. "
Few expected the Congress to return to power until almost the very end of the campaign.
They all underestimated Dr Singh's popularity and the lacklustre image of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani, among his own partymen. "
The Congress party "began to switch gears and focus on succession, hoping Rahul Gandhi would rise to the occasion and take charge. Planted stories began to appear in the media about Dr Singh's imminent retirement.
However, Rahul's repeated inability to deliver results for the party in a series of state elections meant that Dr Singh could not be 'retired' and created a vacuum at the top."
"Rahul chose defiance to authority as his strategy for political relevance," he writes.
The two did not have much contact besides their regular meetings. When the core group met at 7, RCR, Sonia would arrive first and have an exclusive chat with Manmohan.
"That was when the two spoke to each other in private". Singh rarely spoke in the core-group meetings. "He would hear what others had to say and take his decisions after having another word with Sonia."
There was also very little social contact between the families of the two leaders. However, "once in a while Sonia would call on Dr Singh to discuss family matters...There were, after all, few family elders available to give her advice on things that may have bothered her in her personal life."