Writer Khushwant Singh used to go to Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh as soon as the summer set in. Though this is an old anecdote, it is about him and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Khushwant not only used to write about political personalities but used to help them sometimes in their political careers also. The gfiles editor happened to be in Kasauli in 2004 and went to get an interview with Khushwant for Doordarshan. Over drinks, in a beautiful hut near the Kasauli Club, Khushwant narrated the story about Manmohan’s honesty. Manmohan was contesting the election from the South Delhi Parliamentary constituency in 1999 as a Congress candidate (Vijay Kumar Malhotra defeated him). During this period, Manmohan’s son-in-law visited Khushwant and said that Manmohan did not have funds and, without funds, election cannot be managed. Khushwant listened silently and told him to come back after two days. As Khushwant narrated, “I called some industrial friend of mine to give two lakh rupees for election purposes but I did not disclose the name of the candidate. I called Manmohan’s son-in-law and handed over the money to him. Manmohan Singh lost the election. After 2-3 months, one day I got a call from Manmohan Singh that he wanted to meet me. The meeting was fixed for the very next day. Manmohan reached on time. After the initial pleasantries, Manmohan said, “Sir, I am very thankful to you, my son-in-law told me that you have helped me in the elections with a sum of `2 lakh but, sir, you know that much money was not required. I have brought the two lakh rupees back with my sincere thanks to you for helping me at this crucial juncture. I would have forbidden my son-in-law but my son-in-law told me about the money he took from you after the elections were over.” After narrating the story, Khushwant lapsed into a moment of silence and then said, “Eho ja imandar Pradhan Mantri kithe milna hai?”(Where can you find a Prime Minister who is so honest?).
VOL. 8, ISSUE 1 | April | 2014