Leaders, Politicians, Citizens: Fifty Figures Who Influenced India’s Politics, written by seasoned journalist Rasheed Kidwai, was launched on Friday. It provides a sneak peek into 50 extraordinary lives that have left an indelible mark on India’s post-Independence years.

The event was graced by ANI’s founder Prem Prakash, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and BJP leader Jai Panda.
Talking about the book, Kidwai told ANI, “There were many who were liked and adored by the people but they tasted defeat. But, there is no book that takes into account such figures. So, therefore, I thought of it and wrote about the 50 personalities who influenced Indian politics.”

Among the leaders written about in the book are Indira Gandhi, Jyoti Basu, Rajiv Gandhi, J Jayalalithaa, Sheikh Abdullah, Dilip Kumar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and
Bal Thackeray.
“I’ve written particularly about Atal Bihari Vajpayee and several politicians. They had a sense of gratitude, a sense of belonging, they respected their political opponents and they had mutual respect,” Kidwai said at the event.
Putting forth his views on the same during a discussion held at the event, Pilot said, “It’s not about the party you belong to, there was a sense of regard and respect, irrespective of what ideology represented. Once you are a member of the House, you are member.” He also lauded their ability to take criticism in the right manner, accept their mistakes and reach out to people who may not think alike. “That ability I think you’ve seen a deterioration in the last 15 years.”

Panda, who was also at the event, said about the book, “I’d like to congratulate Rasheed Kidwai for an excellent book. It’s very readable. And the fact that it goes into anecdotes and talks about relationships makes it extremely accessible.”

He was quick to add to the brewing debate on political discourse: “Sachin and I are from different parties and have often participated in discussions. We’ve had that sort of camaraderie.”
When asked about the disruptions faced in the functioning of the parliament, Panda said, “I have always maintained that disruptions lead us nowhere. As a parliamentarian, on a few occasions, I chose to walk out rather than disrupt the House and have even returned my emoluments of the day.”
Also part of the debate was Prem Prakash, who said, “Pandit Ji (Jawahar Lal Nehru) was a different person, Shastri Ji was a different person. We are very grateful that Pandit Ji was there as a Prime Minister, as the founding father. He saw us through three elections. It is that which has given us democracy.” He also mentioned that as a country, India is “moving ahead well”. “We are not hopeless,” he said.
Prem Prakash also said that had Sachin’s father Rajesh Pilot been alive, the situation in the country would have turned out different. “Similarly, if Rajiv Gandhi had not been assassinated, this country would have been different. He knew what he wanted to do for his country.”
He also mentioned how India has stuck to Fabian socialism, and the worst thing right now is intolerance. (ANI)