A political memoir that is refreshingly different

Till date our Indian politicians dwell on sheer politics in their memoirs and autobiographies. And with that, the family is kept in the background, but Mohsina Kidwai seems to have  broken this trend. A book review by Humra Quraishi

Just read and re-read this book by the veteran political figure, Mohsina Kidwai. An account of her life and times. This recently launched book is not just off beat and refreshingly different but relays that there is more to a political personality than politics. The spouse and children and the extended family is also of immense significance as they do play a role, directly or indirectly.

Till date our Indian politicians dwell on sheer politics in their memoirs and autobiographies. And with that, the family is kept in the background, but Mohsina  Kidwai seems to have  broken this trend.

Of course, she  has dwelt  on her  political  journey, starting off way  back in 1960,  but  webbed and in-webbed  are the  details to her  family, especially  her three daughters and their children and spouses.

Also, what comes across is  not  just Mohsina  Kidwai’s loyalty  to the  Congress party  but also  to the  Gandhi family. As she details her interactions with the late Indira Gandhi, she also focuses on those several instances where Indira Gandhi was there for her. Space constraints hold me back from writing details to several such occasions.

Let  me put  in details  to one such instance, “  My  election as a  MP  meant  I  had to make  frequent trips to  Delhi. On one such trip I had to attend a public  meeting for a  municipal by- election, accompanied by  party  leaders,  Balram  Jakhar and  Buta  Singh. I had just begun speaking when someone hurled a stone on my forehead, splitting the skin open. I was rushed to the Wellington Hospital by my colleagues and party workers. Five stitches were needed to sew up the wound.

Indira Gandhi left work to visit me in the hospital. She told me this was the beginning and that there would be more challenges ahead as Congress proceeded on its comeback trail. Indiraji  dialled my  Lucknow  number and spoke to my eldest daughter  Seema, explaining patiently  to her what had happened…She also specifically  told  Seema not to  panic  seeing my  blood smeared  picture in the  next  morning’s  newspapers…”

There’s also this passage, where Mohsina describes her last meeting with Indira  Gandhi. “On 25 October 1984, I met Indiraji for the last time  before her  assassination. I had gone to discuss some  political  issues with her about  Meerut (  my  parliamentary  constituency in 1980 )  and remember something that  occurred to me  just  as I was about to  leave the room. ‘Indiraji, I am not sure if I should tell you this,’  I told her, ‘but on your  recent  visit to Lucknow. I noticed you have a  lot of  new faces in your  security. Please becareful, Indiraji.’

Indiraji had smiled, ‘ Mohsina  I have  immense faith in my country and in its  people and  I am absolutely sure from the  bottom of  my  heart that they will never  let me down,’  she said.”

Title of the book– ‘My Life In  Indian Politics- Mohsina  Kidwai

as told to  Rasheed Kidwai’

Authors  –  Mohsina  Kidwai and  Rasheed  Kidwai

Publishers –  HarperCollins  Publishers  India

Pages  –  261

Price  –  Rs 699