Books and Leaders

5
2011

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In Search of Leaders with Spines

By Shougat Dasgupta
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‘Telugu poetry raised a lot of questions, the answers for which I found in Marxism’

Sitaram Yechury | 60 | Andhra Pradesh,  Rajya Sabha MP and Politburo Member, CPM
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‘I’m a staunch liberal, but Che Guevara struck a chord in me’

Salman Khurshid | 59 | Uttar Pradesh, Minister of External Affairs, Congress
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‘If I were forced to pick a particular author, I’d single out Hobsbawm’

Jaswant Singh | 74 | Rajasthan, MP, BJP
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‘Maududi’s writings get the credit for what I am’

Syed Ali Shah Geelani | 83 | J&K, Chairman, Hurriyat Conference
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‘Every time I read Gandhi or Nehru, I am inspired’

Naresh Gujral | 64 |Punjab, Rajya Sabha MP, Shiromani Akali Dal
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‘Reading Mandela’s biography opened up a world of possibilities for me’

Yasin Malik | 49 | Jammu & Kashmir, Chairman, Jammu & Kashmir Liberation front
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‘The godlessness in my writing comes from the Mahabharata’

Shashi Tharoor | 56 | Kerala, Minister of State, Human Resource Development, Congress
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‘The great thing about fiction is that what the writer writes is rarely what the reader reads’

Sajjad Gani Lone | 45 | J&K, Chairman, People’s Conference
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‘The shaping of characters, human conduct and the frailty of life itself are best evoked by Somerset Maugham’

Nirmala Sitaraman | 53 |  Tamil Nadu, Spokesperson, BJP
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‘Dickens and Shakespeare provided me solace from my engineering curriculum’

Prithviraj Chavan | 66 | Maharashtra, Chief Minister, Congress
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‘Only the Paranoid Survive is a book I often turn to in my political life’

Derek O’Brien | 50 |West Bengal, Rajya Sabha MP, TMC
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‘The Baburnama is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read’

Ajit Jogi | 66 | Chhattisgarh, Former Chief Minister, Congress
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‘The Quran is the guiding force behind my politics’

Asaduddin Owaisi | 43 | Andhra Pradesh, MP, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen
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‘If I read 5-10 pages of Wodehouse at night, I invariably sleep better’

Pinaki Misra | 53 | Odisha, MP, Biju Janata Dal
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‘I’m a Hindu but am a great student of Islam. We forget the Prophet urged people to read’

Ram Jethmalani | 89 |New Delhi, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP
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‘Dale Carnegie has been the most influential author in my life’

 Digvijaya Singh | 65 | Madhya Pradesh, General Secretary, Congress
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‘For me, reading is not recreation. I read to educate myself politically’

VS Achuthanandan | 89 | Kerala, Former Chief Minister, CPM
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‘For me, history and biographies are the genres of choice’

Anand Sharma | 59 | Himachal Pradesh, Minister Of Commerce & Industry, Congress
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‘Surdas and Kabir have influenced me the most’

Lalu Prasad Yadav | 64 | Bihar, MP and President, Rashtriya Janata Dal
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‘Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna restored India’s self-confidence’

Ravi Shankar Prasad | 58 | Bihar, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP
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‘Joining politics diversified my reading a lot’

Mehbooba Mufti | 53 | J&K, President, PDP
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‘Although Worshipping False Gods denigrates Ambedkar, it’s a good read’

PL Punia | 67 | Uttar Pradesh, MP, Congress
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‘Fatima Mernissi made a huge impact on me’

Najma Heptullah | 73 | Madhya Pradesh, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP
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‘Animal Farm seemed a slight book but it opened my eyes to politics’

Deepender Singh Hooda | 34 |Haryana, MP, Congress
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‘I discovered the books of Ramachandra Guha late and he is very impressive’

Somnath Chatterjee | 83 | West Bengal, Former Lok Sabha Speaker
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‘There is no better poet than Shakespeare because he deals with the stuff of ordinary life’

Kapil Sibal | 64 |Delhi, Minister of Communications & IT,  Congress
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‘Political philosophy made less impact on me than religious scriptures’

Azam Khan | 64 | Uttar Pradesh, Urban Development Minister, SP

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‘International relations interest me a lot and Kissinger’s Diplomacy is one of my favourites’

Manish Tewari | 53 | Punjab, Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Congress
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‘My fondness for reading and writing is a result of Osho’s influence’

Sharad yadav | 65 | Bihar, President, Janata Dal (United)

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‘Lenin’s biography changed my life completely’

Manish Kunjam | 46 | Chhattisgarh, Former MLA, CPI
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‘My only spiritual experience has been Khushwant Singh’s The Freethinker’s Prayer Book’

Mani Shankar Aiyar | 71 | Tamil Nadu, Rajya Sabha MP, Congress

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‘Swami Vivekananda’s literary work is the fulcrum of my existence’

Shivraj Singh Chouhan | 52 | Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister, BJP
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‘My reading is focussed on subjects like agriculture and rural development’ 

Venkaiah Naidu | 63 | Andhra Pradesh, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP
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‘I am my favourite author’ 

Yashwant Sinha | 75 | Bihar, MP, BJP
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‘I don’t think a politician necessarily needs to read in order to learn more’ 

Meenakshi Natarajan | 39 | Madhya Pradesh, MP, Congress
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‘If I start a book at six in the evening, I have to read till five the next morning’ 

Rajeev Chandrasekhar | 49 | Karnataka, Rajya Sabha MP, Independent
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‘Reading Abdul Kalam taught me about India’ 

Muhammad Hamdullah Sayeed | 30 | Lakshadweep, MP, Congress
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‘Ayn Rand made me think hard about capitalism. Now, Jagdish Bhagwati is someone I read and follow’ 

Kamal Nath | 66 | Madhya Pradesh, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Congress
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‘Premchand inspired me to get into public service’ 

Sandeep Dikshit | 48 | Delhi, MP, Congress
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‘I like Amartya Sen’s idea that civil liberties matter more to the poor than merely removing poverty 

Oommen Chandy | 69 | Kerala, Chief Minister, Congress
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‘When she was pregnant, my mother would read poetry hoping I would become a poet’ 

RPN Singh | 48 | Uttar Pradesh, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Congress
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‘Politicians don’t need poignant novels to understand poverty. But Amartya Sen and Al Gore have had great impact on me’ 

Ashwani Kumar | 60 | Punjab, Minister of Law & Justice, Congress
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‘Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret changed my perspective towards life’ 

Chiranjeevi | 57 | Andhra Pradesh, Minister of State for Tourism, Congress
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‘Nehru gave me faith in the idea of India. Maulana Azad prepared me for public life in Kashmir’ 

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed | 76 | Jammu & Kashmir, Founder, People’s Democratic Party
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‘I have got the collected works of Mao translated into Tamil’ 

D Raja | 63 | Tamil Nadu, Rajya Sabha MP, CPI
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‘Savarkar’s autobiography has inspired me throughout my career’ 

Nitin Gadkari | 55 | Maharashtra, President, BJP
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‘Maulana Azad changed me, I am no longer scared’ 

Syed Shahnawaz Hussain | 44 | Bihar, Spokesperson, BJP
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‘I have read To Kill a Mockingbird seven times’ 

Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo | 38 | Odisha, MP, Biju Janata Dal
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‘Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged left my head swimming with questions’ 

Rajiv Pratap Rudy | 50 | Bihar, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP
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‘No one understood our issues, our poverty, our culture, our hypocrisy as well as Premchand did’ 

Rajnath Singh | 61 | Uttar Pradesh, MP, BJP
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‘Books like Kalidasa’s Meghdoot that have shaped my life and thought are in Sanskrit’ 

Devi Prasad Tripathi | 58 | Uttar Pradesh, General Secretary, Nationalist Congress Party
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‘I am drawn to strong women characters. Jane Austen made a huge impact on me’ 

Meira Kumar | 67 | Bihar, Lok Sabha Speaker, Congress
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‘The Communist Manifesto shaped my political life’ 

AB Bardhan | 87 | Maharashtra, Former General Secretary, CPI
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‘The Dnyaneshwari is a manual to survive with dignity and pride’ 

Sanjay Raut | 51 | Maharashtra, Rajya Sabha MP, Shiv Sena
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‘Existentialist literature by Sartre and Camus have deeply moved me’ 

Saugata Roy | 65 | West Bengal, MP, Trinamool Congress
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‘Charan Singh’s writing helped me understand politics better’ 

Jayant Chaudhary | 34 | Uttar Pradesh, MP, Rashtriya Lok Dal
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‘When I read, I get into somebody else’s life, I travel. Like being a tourist’ 

Vasundhara Raje | 59 | Rajasthan, MLA, BJP
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‘Dinkar’s portrayal of Karna changed my way of looking at public affairs forever’ 

Ambika Chaudhary | 56 | Uttar Pradesh, MLA, Samajwadi Party
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‘Reading is important, but your principles must be rooted in common sense’ 

Praful Patel, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
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The Lettered Spirit

Books That Shaped The Founding Fathers
Ananya Vajpeyi,
Writer & Academic
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A Manual for Philosopher Kings 

13 Books Every Politician Must Read
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Director, Centre for policy research
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Issue Editors Shougat Dasgupta (Text), Ishan Tankha (Photo) 

Team: Ashhar Khan, Brijesh Pandey, Rana Ayyub, Shaili Chopra, Revati Laul, Riyaz Wani, VN Bhatt, Atul Chaurasia, Jeemon Jacob, Baba Umar, Shonali Ghosal, Soumik Mukherjee, Sai Manish, Akshai Jain, Ajachi Chakrabarti, Aditi Saxton, Kaushik Kashyap, Srikanth S, Satyadeep, Shone Satheesh Babu, Cyril Sam, Anamika Chatterjee, Aradhna Wal, Ajoy Sen, Mahesh Bhandari

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is incredible! I have been reading Tehelka for more than three years now and I truly respect what you do. But I have never been so amused or been delighted so much!

    Well, yes, there are some truly cringe worthy moments and it’s really not that hard to separate the genuinely significant books from the PC choices that the politicians think they have to say. (Which by itself is interesting enough)

    I can understand why Shougat Dasgupta is disappointed with the responses s/he got and perhaps this s/he had in mind when this feature was planned, but it’s absolutely fascinating none the less.

    Thank you!

  2. Read Tehelka from cover to cover after a long time, and I have been reading it from the second issue on! Quite interesting profiling of the depth and width (or otherwise)of what engages our politicians intellectually . But more importantly humanizes our politicians quite a bit. Good read, thank you.

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