Book Review : Mandate – Will of the People

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Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

This is the first easy-to-read book about recent Indian political history. Pegged on the general elections that shaped today’s India, Mandate: Will of the People tells the story of Indian politics in a gripping, page-turning style.

Vir Sanghvi, the well-known journalist and TV anchor, draws on his personal experiences and memories as well as scores of interviews to piece together an incisive and candid account of what went on behind the scenes. Peppered with little-known details and insider information, this book tells the stories behind the story and brings alive the men and women behind the headlines.

Mandate: Will of the People contains the real story of the declaration of the Emergency, the rise and fall of Sanjay Gandhi, the Punjab insurgencies, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the bloody riots that followed her death. It tracks the emergence of Rajiv Gandhi and explains the Bofors scandal that contributed to his defeat.

Many of the questions that linger over Indian politics are answered here: how did Narasimha Rao become Prime Minister? Why did he liberalise the economy? What was the Ram Mandir agitation really about? Why didn’t Sonia Gandhi agree to be PM? And how did Manmohan Singh’s weakness clear the way for Narendra Modi.


Mandate: Will of the People tells an important story : how the world’s largest democracy came of age and how it has affected our lives.

Indian politics is perhaps the most interesting phenomenon in the world. With such a vast expanse of ideologies and scope for work, it provides a great topic for research. 67 years post independence, the Indian people are still unsure about their politicians and their motives. Each election has paved the way for something new in the country and changed the course of its people. Mandate captures bits and glimpses of these elections and their aftermath for our generation and the ones to come.

From the rise of Indira Gandhi and the circumstances behind it, to the general election of 1971 and its results, Vir Sanghvi sets the scene for a saga that continues for decades. He assassinates the characters of Indira, her associates, and the situation behind the single important incident in Indian politics – the Emergency in 1975. Who were the players behind that megalomaniac decision? Who influenced and coerced Indira to impose Emergency on her citizens? You have to read Mandate to know stuff that happened in your childhood or, for some of us, even before we were born.

cbp4aSince Vir Sanghvi has been an ace journalist, his views and experience is well reflected in this book. Little snippets of his interviews with prominent political figures have been a part of his narration and shed much light on the events and their backgrounds. I particularly liked the chapter on Emergency and Rajiv Gandhi. There is much speculation about Sonia Gandhi and her entry into politics, her motives and her intentions towards her children and the Congress party. I liked the way Vir Sanghvi dissected the incidents and tried to explain them in a logical way.

Would have appreciated a chapter or so on the last election and Narendra Modi’s emergence, but perhaps that will need a book in itself. Recommended for everyone, of my generation and the subsequent ones.

P.S. – The book has an amazing foreward by Amish. Wish he’d write more such essays apart from his usual fiction.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Image Courtesy: Twitter

Image Courtesy: Twitter

About the Author:

Vir Sanghvi is an Indian journalist and author. He was born in London in 1956. He graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford. He was working for India Today, and when the magazine wanted to start India’s first city-focused magazine, Bombay, it chose Vir Sanghvi to run it. At the young age of 22, Sanghvi became the editor of the new magazine and made it a success in no time. He has also anchored shows on Doordarshan and NDTV. He is currently the Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times.

Book Details: 

Language: English,  Genre: Non-fiction/Politics

Author(s): Vir Sanghvi

Publisher: Westland Books, Year Published: 2015

Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 156

ISBN-13: 9789384030391 , ISBN-10: 9384030392

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This review is also shared with the First Reads Challenge at b00kr3vi3ws and The Indian Quills Reading Challenge at The Tales Pensieve

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