When he began a new column titled “First person, Second draft” in September 2013, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta acknowledged that the Hindi film Madras Cafe, directed by Shoojit Sircar, on the hunt for the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, was somewhat of an inspiration.
Gupta wrote in the inaugural issue of the column:
“Because he [Sircar] has given me that nudge to start putting together a reporter’s memoir of sorts.
“Publishers have often approached me to write one, and I have routinely fobbed them off with a permanent, lazy journalist’s excuse: editors write books between jobs.
“That hasn’t come to pass, nor is it likely to anytime soon.”
He underlined the point further in a subsequent column:
“I had said last month while explaining this new series: that when publishers ask me to write a book, or more specifically, a memoir of my years as a reporter, my standard excuse is, editors write books between jobs.
“And since that wasn’t on the cards any time soon, I thought I might start putting together these first person accounts on the 20 or so big stories I had covered as a reporter, to add up to a memoir some day.”
Barely six months later (and still happily in his job), that time has come to pass, somewhat.
A compilation of Gupta’s compelling Saturday column ‘National Interest‘ is soon forthcoming from Harper Collins. Titled ‘If Modi wins on Sunday‘, the 480-page book captures the column that has now been running for 17 years.
The book is not Gupta’s memoirs, but its title is a tantalising throwback to a 2007 column, when the Gujarat chief minister was facing his second assembly election.
In that column, Shekhar Gupta recalled that in 2002 when he presciently wrote that if Modi won, he would alter the character of national politics turning the the next general election into a Sonia versus Modi contest, the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan had called him on the phone.
“What’s this, boss, what kind of nonsense are you writing?” he said.
“What do you mean by saying Sonia versus Modi in the next general elections? Have we all disappeared? Do we all wear bangles? You think we have spent decades in politics to now hand it all over to somebody who walks in through the backdoor?”
For the record, the results of the 2014 general election will be declared on Friday.
Also, for the record, this is the second book with a Shekhar Gupta byline. The first was India redefines its role, published in 2005.
Order the book here: If Modi wins on Sunday