Sonia Gandhi's instructions sought on PMO decisions: Book

Sonia Gandhi's instructions sought on PMO decisions: Book

 A controversy erupted on Friday over a claim in a book by the prime minister’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru that Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee sought Sonia Gandhi’s instructions on important files to be cleared by the prime minister.

He also described as “ridiculous” the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) attacking him on his book and said he was “amused”.

Baru maintained that his book was a “balanced account” of UPA-I and he had recorded “a lot of achievements” of Manmohan Singh and successes of the government that got them another term in 2009.

In his book “The Accidental Prime Minister – The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh”, he has written, “Pulok, who was inducted into the Manmohan Singh PMO at the behest of Sonia Gandhi, had regular, almost daily, meetings with Sonia at which he was said to brief her on the key policy issues of the day and seek her instructions on important files to be cleared by the prime minister.

“Indeed, Pulok was the single most point of regular contact between the prime minister and Sonia. He was also the PMO’s main point of contact with the National Advisory Council, a high-profile advisory body chaired by Sonia Gandhi, with social activists as members. It was sometimes dubbed the shadow cabinet.”

Baru said, “it was not a secret.” He said it was well known that Chatterjee was Sonia Gandhi’s secretary when she was the Leader of Opposition and had also worked with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation chaired by her.

“He was very much part of the family...I was not witness to it, whether she physically saw the files. I knew she was consulted on issues and he was taking her concurrence,” said Baru, who had resigned from the PMO in 2008 while Chatterjee joined it in 2011. The PMO denied Baru’s claim about Chatterjee taking files to Gandhi, saying it was “completely baseless and mischievous”.

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