‘The finest biography of an Indian prime minister that I have read’ – Ramachandra Guha, author of India After Gandhi: A History
‘A real achievement, an instant classic and a total triumph’ – Shruti Kapila, Professor of History and Politics, University of Cambridge and author of Violent Fraternity: Indian Political Thought in the Global Age
‘Doubles as a history of Hindu supremacism; it won’t be bettered for a long time’ – Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger: A History of the Present
‘Extraordinary and unputdownable. This is biography done right’ – Sonia Faleiro, author of The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing
A man of unusual gifts and dangerously consequential flaws, Atal Behari Lal Vajpaye was the Hindu Right’s most glamorized and enigmatic face until now. Drawing on a natural talent to pull in the crowds with his eloquence, he elevated his physically frail and academically mediocre self to become a powerful spokesperson of historical victimhood.
In this singularly gripping account, Abhishek Choudhary sets out to prove that Vajpayee was far more critical to the project of Hinduizing India than is commonly understood. He uncovers how Vajpayee’s early life, of which we know shockingly little, lies at the heart of his political character: essentially conservative yet curious and conciliatory, detached yet quietly ambitious. Weaving previously unseen documents with revealing interviews, Choudhary layers this definitive biography with details of Vajpayee’s underground activities in the wake of Gandhi’s assassination; his early obsession with foreign policy; the shock from the premature deaths of his parents; his tortuous private life and maudlin poetry; his key role in the SVD coalition experiment; his defence of the Sangh Parivar inside the parliament and his averments and deferments outside. In so doing, this extraordinary debut revises several lazy myths and false binaries that have come to dominate Indian political discourse. The sympathy of Congress conservatives and Hindi intelligentsia for the RSS, Patel’s own extended ambiguity, Nehru’s innate conviction that East Pakistan would merge back with India, Indira Gandhi’s fleet-footed attack on the Jan Sangh’s finances and electoral chances, the foolish fantasies of JP’s Total Revolution and the Sangh Parivar’s dubious heroism in the Emergency are also revisited to reveal the complexity of India’s democracy.
The first of a two-volume study, Vajpayee: The Ascent of the Hindu Right is a stunningly original portrait of Hindutva’s first prime minister.
|Title:||VAJPAYEE: The Ascent of the Hindu Right, 1924–1977|
|Number Of Pages:||400|
|Country Of Origin:||India|
|Release date:||10 May 2023|