Mamata, Modi attract British biographer

Kolkata, July 21 : British author Patrick French feels Indian chief ministers like West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Gujarat's Narendra Modi make for interesting biographical subjects.

French, the official biographer of Nobel Prize winning writer V.S. Naipaul, said during an interaction at the Oxford Bookstore here Saturday that he considered the three chief ministers influential and interesting.

"I am actually intrigued by several of India's chief ministers. The powerful regional leaders in India at the moment... are in many cases much more interesting and intriguing than the politicians at the centre in New Delhi," said French.

"I mean they are really biographically interesting people. They are certainly calling the shots that wasn't there a generation ago. In Indira Gandhi's time, in Jawaharlal Nehru's time things were very different," said French, who is part of the second edition of a writing workshop organised in Kolkata by the University of East Anglia.

A noted historian, French has to his credit critically-acclaimed books like 'A Portrait' (2011), 'Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land' (2003) and 'Liberty or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division' (1997).

French pointed out that the most intriguing aspect in the current political scenario is the contrast of power between the central government and the states.

"The real power is in the regions. So if you have for example two or three chief ministers joining together they become an immensely influential power bloc and that makes the balance of power between the centre and the periphery completely different and I find that quite interesting," said French, who is working on a book on the Himalayas.

"I guess the fact that they (chief ministers) can call the shots makes it very interesting. But I think everybody has a sense of realisation that Indian politics from now on is going to be like that," added French.

--IANS (Posted on 21-07-2013)

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