Rasheed Kidwai is a veteran journalist who has witnessed the highs and lows of the Congress. He has been a witness to the venerable history of the Congress party from the inscrutable Indira Gandhi to the earthy Sitaram Kesari and now the prince in waiting Rahul Gandhi.
In 24 Akbar Road, the author takes us through the power corridors of the Congress. Its leaders, their lives, gossip and history. When someone recommended me this book then I was immediately on the back foot as I was not interested in the encomiums showered by some sycophant, my fears were allayed by the author. He puts forward an almost unbiased and honest account of Congress leaders, although he refrains from criticizing the Congress or its leaders too harshly.
The book begins with perhaps the most colossal leader of the Congress, Indira Gandhi, the woman who defeated Richard Nixon, genocidal Yahya Khan, Bhindrewala and even managed to check mate Henry Kissinger. Daughter of one of the most important founding fathers of our nation, Indira Gandhi was an automatic choice for the throne of the Congress after Nehru died. She would later have to fight rebellion in her own party and form the Congress(I) which was headquartered from the now legendary 24, Akbar Road. Indira Gandhi also had the dubious distinction of imposing emergency in the country and suspending democracy for a whole of 2 years. Indira Gandhi was both a force of good and evil. Her human rights record and imposition of the emergency would continue to remain a blot on the history of Independent India.