Madam Prime Minister is a racy novel with political games, scandals, and a bit of romance thrown in
All hail Asha Devi, India’s youngest prime minister, and heir of one of India’s grand national political dynasties. Her older half-brother, Karan Pratap Singh, really should have been prime minister, but a key coalition partner put a spoke in his wheel: Meet Sukanya Sarkar, West Bengal chief minister, chief tantrum thrower, and leader of the Poribortan Party. The notoriously fickle Ms Sarkar is more of a burden than an ally, something anyone who joins hands with her has to remember, or else. Oh, and her political heir is her beloved nephew—sounds familiar?
Asha Devi has a rough road ahead of her. Her main aim is to hunt down the former defence minister who ordered the assassination of her father and fled the country without a trace. His nephew, an arms dealer (ha ha) must be extradited from France (ha ha again), and must be made to sing like Tweety Bird. Terrorists, however, have other plans to keep Asha Devi busy. A popular mall in Delhi is attacked, hundreds of people are taken hostage, and it’s not pretty at all. Will Asha Devi release the terrorists they want in exchange for these women and children? Botched operations follow botched operations. With mercurial Sukanya Sarkar constantly nipping at her heels and dropping sly comments to the media about Asha Devi being young and inexperienced (the very reason why the devious woman wanted this 29-year-old as prime minister in the first place), Asha Devi has to work extremely hard to improve her image. Surgical strikes alone won’t cut it.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you need to spin shitstorms, call the media in. Asha Devi eventually realises that “The first thing she needed to do was build relationships with the editors and anchors who decided how stories were covered in newspapers and on television.” There’s an interplay between two news anchors from rival news channels who once had a torrid affair that went so sour, even cottage cheese could not be made of the mess. Meet Manisha Patel and Gaurav Agnihotri: Both are vying to get Asha Devi’s first interview as prime minister. While Manisha appears to be from the NDTV school of journalism, hyper-nationalist war-monger Gaurav is terrifyingly familiar. He surrounds himself with the most rabid retired army generals ever. Enough said. Fortunately, this is a post-Modi India, so bigotry does not stain the pages.
Madam Prime Minister is a racy novel with political games, scandals, and a bit of romance thrown in. Imagine a certain hot ex-RBI governor who is younger and, omigod, single — not easy to resist! As you hastily turn the pages to discover if Asha Devi finds her father’s assassin, gets dumped by Sukanya Sarkar, or survives the onslaughts of the Opposition, you are bound to giggle as you realise whom the main characters are loosely based on. However, if you’re the sort who studiously avoids those raucous and ridiculous debates on news channels, be warned: Chunks of the book may make you gag.
Madam Prime Minister
By Seema Goswami
pp. 300, Rs.399