Obama's views on Indian leaders cause flutter

Former United States President Barack Obama's description of India's leaders in his new memoir, A Promised Land, has caused ripples in India's political circles.

The book, released on Tuesday, covers his campaign for the White House and his first term in office, during which he visited India when the now-opposition Congress party was in power. It contains his impressions of then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Obama describes Mr Singh "as a chief architect of India's economic transformation" and "a self-effacing technocrat who'd won people's trust not by appealing to their passions but by bringing about higher living standards and maintaining a well-earned reputation for not being corrupt".

The praise for Mr Singh was welcomed by senior Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor.

But it is Mr Obama's frank and less than flattering description of Mr Gandhi, the 50-year-old heir of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, that drew criticism from Congress leaders.

"Rahul Gandhi has a nervous, unformed 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," wrote Mr Obama.

Mr Gandhi was defeated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

"Mr Obama, no one can know the personality of any person in five to 10 minutes. Sometimes it takes years. You are wrong to judge the personality of Rahul Gandhi ji. You will bite the dust, just wait for some time," said Congress spokesman Udit Raj.

Congress leader Archana Dalmia tweeted: "We don't need a Barack Obama to pass a judgment on our leader Rahul Gandhi."

Mr Tharoor tweeted that Mr Obama did not mention PM Modi in the memoir. "@narendramodi is not mentioned by name at all," said Tharoor, a Member of Parliament.

But the India portion does mention Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Obama writing of his concern about the "divisive nationalism touted by the BJP".

Indo-Asian News Service


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