Mandate: Will of the People – Vir Sanghvi – Book Review

MandateGoodreads blurb: 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.

If you have to read one book about Indian politics – then this is it.


Given that I was born in 1980 and was too young to remember Indira Gandhi before she was assassinated, the earliest Prime Minister of India that I remember was the handsome Rajiv Gandhi. And as I grew older and coalition politics took over the country and its polity, I was so disillusioned with the whole concept of politics and politicians that I didn’t quite pay much attention to it at all as a teenager. But then I grew older and soon realized that despite their antics to the contrary, these politicians, their decisions, their personalities and actions had more than a direct impact on my regular ordinary life.

And it is in this context that reading Vir Sanghvi’s Mandate: Will Of The People makes immense sense for all of us Indians. Taking a fairly balanced and unbiased view of the history of Indian politics since 1971 till the 2014 General Elections, the author takes us on a journey of recollections (most of the time his own, as he has interacted with almost all of the Prime Ministers mentioned, in his capacity as a journalist) and tries to analyze each of them, their actions, the circumstances that voted them in to and out of power and the impact they had on India as a whole.

In the beginning of the book, he makes a very valid point when he states that the impact of leaders and their actions will probably not immediately be felt but will take some time to be fully understood and appreciated (and in some cases criticized as well). And it is with this context and with the benefit of hindsight that Vir Sanghvi approaches each of these leaders and their actions as Prime Ministers of India.

All in all, this book makes for some really interesting reading, and what’s better is the fact that it is not too heavily loaded for or against one politician or ideology but takes a clearly unbiased view as far as possible. And given that it is quite a small book means that all of us can easily pull out some time from our busy schedules to read and learn from our past. Because remember, history has a nasty habit of repeating itself, albeit in different hues, and the onus is on us to learn from it and not repeat our mistakes from the past.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher in return for a honest and unbiased review.

4 thoughts on “Mandate: Will of the People – Vir Sanghvi – Book Review

    • @Sakshi, two words, ‘manic obsession’ 🙂 Well, here’s the thing, back when I was a child I used to be an extremely voracious reader and somewhere in between that habit of mine took a backseat due to the usual pressures that a job, marriage and a child bring with it. However, that habit has come back with a vengeance and the results are clearly visible now, aren’t they 🙂

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