In his upcoming new memoir, A Promised Land, former United States president Barack Obama’s thoughts on the leaders of Congress are shared.
President Barack Obama spoke at length about the dinner he and his wife had with the Congress leader. The guest list included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur. It also included Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Previous reports indicated that Obama referred to Singh as having an impassive integrity.
In a page that was accessed by a leading portal, Obama talks in great detail about his encounter.
Sonia, Obama writes, came across as shrewd and with forceful intelligence. Though she listened more than she spoke and was careful to defer to Singh when policy matters came up. He also said that she often tried to steer the conversation towards Rahul.
Rahul appeared to be “smart and earnest”, Obama says, with “good looks resembling his mother’s”. But there was also a “nervous, uninformed 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”.
Almost towards the end of the dinner the then US president noticed that Manmohan Singh was fighting off sleep. He also noticed that the former Prime Minister looked older than his 78 years.
This made Obama think about the future of the Congress party. Was Rahul Gandhi was being groomed to take over?
“Would the baton be successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother and preserving the Congress party’s dominance over the divisive nationalism touted by the BJP?”
Barack Obama’s thoughts on the dinner made him doubt whether this plan would work. But Singh could not be blamed for the future his party was unprepared for. “He [Singh] had done his part,” Obama writes, “following the playbook of liberal democracies across the post-Cold War world: upholding the constitutional order; attending to the quotidian, often technical work of boosting the GDP; and expanding the social safety net.”
Obama compares Singh’s experience to his own. “Like me, he [Singh] had come to believe that this was all any of us could expect from democracy, especially in big, multiethnic, multi-religious societies like India and the United States. Not revolutionary leaps or major cultural overhauls; not a fix for every social pathology or lasting answers for those in search of purpose or meaning in their lives. Just the observance of rules that allowed us to sort out or at least tolerate our differences, and government policies that raised living standards and improved education enough to temper humanity’s baser impulses.”
Barack Obama’s much awaited memoir is set to release on Tuesday November 17.