All eyes on Singh`s autobiography

Updated: Mar 09, 2011, 13:28 PM IST

Bhopal: With Congress leader Arjun Singh passing away, people are now awaiting his autobiography which he was working on when he died March 4.

The autobiography, tentatively titled "A Grain of Sand in the Ocean of Time," was to have been 500-odd pages thick -- and would have told secrets that he had kept to himself all his life.

Informed sources said Arjun Singh, a former governor of Punjab and three times chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, was in the process of revising the manuscript when he took ill Jan 29.

He had planned the autobiography to be released in May this year. Now it is up to his legal heirs to take the final decision.

Congress leaders accord considerable importance to whatever Arjun Singh would want to say -- they know he knew a lot.

Throughout his over five decades in politics, Arjun Singh was considered a "politician among politicians".

He was Congress vice-president when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister.

As Punjab governor, he was credited with sewing up the historic pact between Gandhi and Akali leader Harchand Singh Longowal in 1985.

He was chief minister of Madhya Pradesh during the Bhopal gas tragedy that killed thousands.

After the verdict by the Bhopal district court in 2010, Arjun Singh admitted providing safe passage to Union Carbide chief executive Warren Anderson.

But he did not disclose on whose directive he allowed Anderson to leave Bhopal -- and India.

"Singh was a respectable person but the people of Bhopal will always be upset with him for not revealing certain facts related to the gas tragedy," said Abdul Jabbar, convener of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan.

Singh was also the unofficial No.2 in the P.V. Narasimha Rao cabinet.

When the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rode to power in 2004, many supporters of Arjun Singh privately questioned the selection of "apolitical" Manmohan Singh as the prime minister.

Between 2004 and 2009, Arjun Singh found himself increasingly marginalised in the cabinet and in the Congress.

He was dropped from an informal "core committee" that used to meet every Friday. By the time the UPA returned to power in 2009, he found no place in the new cabinet.

In 2009, a biography written by his close associate Ramsaran Joshi quoted Arjun Singh`s wife as saying that he was deeply hurt when he was ignored for the post of president in 2007.

"The book is complete and only printing is left. It will certainly reveal the untouched part of Arjun Singh`s life and bring out several secrets," close aide Akbar Mohammad Khan told reporters.