The Sanjay Story is a biography of Sanjay Gandhi written by the esteemed former editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine, Vinod Mehta. Originally published in 1978, the book has recently been re-printed. A quick read, the book helps gain understanding of the life of Mr. Sanjay Gandhi – a brief about his ancestors, his childhood, his relationships and ultimately his role in Indian politics.
Being the grandson of the First Prime Minister of the Indian Republic and son of the First Lady Prime Minister of the country would seem to be an honour to most. The author of the book shows us how proud Sanjay Gandhi was of his heritage, but how little effort he put into living up to those names and positions. An average student, with no degree other than a Class 12 pass from Doon School, he went on to start the first indigenous car factory of the country: Maruti, a car that never came into existence beyond its layout models in various exhibitions. Vinod Mehta leads us through the Emergency, and the influence Sanjay Gandhi had on his mother during this period. Indira Gandhi, described as a mother blinded by faith on her son’s actions hardly seems worthy of being called the Iron Lady once one had read this book. A careful examination of the uprooting and rehabilitation of the Turkman Gate slums gives one an insight to the ignorant attitude of Sanjay Gandhi. However, all is not bad. Mr. Mehta does throw light on the fact that all was not done with evil intentions. For example, the ‘nasbandi’ or family planning program was meant to be a measure for population control –an imperative for the growth of our company. But he was a man who believed in ends over mean, which is seen prominently while reading the book.
A book I would recommend to all those who are interested in the history of Indian politics, especially the Emergency, and the lives of the Nehru-Gandhi family. It’s well researched and impartial, with just the right amount of humour to keep the reader going.