Publication of the book titled “One life is not enough” by Sonia Gandhi’s one time confidante Natwar Singh and Shree Manmohan Singh’s aid Shree Sanjay Baru’s The "Reluctant prime minister" has revived the memory of the publication of a plethora of books in the wake of the defeat of Shreemati Indira Gandhi in 1977. Such insider accounts claim to bring accountability and transparency in the system and establish credibility. They titillate the readers with “giant has fallen” excitement.
I recall a contrast. In 1962 India faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of China. The country was taken unawares. The defense minister Shree V. K.Krishna Menon was widely blamed for the ill preparedness of Indian forces and wrong policies of the government. He was forced to resign from the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru.
As a convention a minister gives a statement in the parliament to explain the circumstances of his putting in papers. Krishna Menon did not exercise that privilege. So he was mocked as an indefensible defense minister.
The celebrated political scientist and biographer Professor Michael Brecher refers to his conversation with Menon. He tried to persuade Menon to speak about the contentious issue and to clear his position. He told him, “You owe it to the posterity. It has a claim to know your side of the story.” To this Menon retorted, “Does my duty to posterity teach me to betray my friend?”
His side of the story was never told.