Chandra Shekhar, India’s last socialist icon, steadfastly held to his political convictions in a career spanning over five decades. As socialist politics metamorphosed into identity politics in the post-Mandal nineties, and gradually degenerated into family-run enterprises, Chandra Shekhar: The Last Icon of Ideological Politics written by Harivansh Narayan Singh (co-authored with Ravi Dutt Bajpai), Chandra Shekhar’s former media adviser and journalist, and now, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, is a relevant read.
Harivansh Narayan Singh observed Chandra Shekhar from close quarters and this is reflected in some of his minute observations. Apart from his own interactions with the socialist stalwart from 1978, the author has relied on extensive conversations with Om Prakash Srivastava, Chandra Shekhar’s friend of over half century, and Zindagi Kaa Kaarawan, Chandra Shekhar’s biographical sketch (by Ram Bahadur Rai and Suresh Sharma) to write the book. The author’s admiration for Chandra Shekhar is clearly reflected in this biography but it does not dissolve into a hagiography
The seven chapters reveal many hitherto unknown facts and facets of a man who didn’t really get his due in Indian politics. The high point of his career was becoming Prime Minister for seven months but it would be grossly unfair to judge him by that short tenure.