The War Ministry is the third book in the Raisina Series after Young Turks and Delhi Durbar by Krishan Pratap Singh. I had found Young Turks a bit naïve. But Delhi Durbar was a very tightly written story of politics in Lutyens Delhi. War Ministry carries on the story of the two friends a Nehru and a Khan who now lead the country from Raisina Hill. And dynamics they deal with.

The focus of the story this time is external affairs while it mostly focused on internal affairs earlier. Timeline of the story remains hazy. Somewhere at the beginning of the millennium, post the Atal Behari Vajpayee’s prime ministership. The protagonist team of a Muslim Prime Minister and a dynastic Deputy Prime Minister take on the biggies of the world. That is China and USA in a hypothetically smart way to get everything India wants through diplomatic channels only. While taking care that Pakistan does not make any noise anywhere. It gives you a glimpse of the world of diplomats/politicians/extended family connections/media & journalists who play their respective roles in taking forward the agendas of the parties they support.

The best part of the story is highlighting the pushes and pulls that a politician has to deal with. Especially in coalition politics. How the smaller parties can play their cards and dismantle the big ones. How the factions within the party are always ready to change sides. And how the religious identity is so difficult to be given up. How the religious leaders would want their share of politician’s success.

There is a subplot that tells you the inside story of the Intelligence agencies and their agents. How they play with politicians and sometimes play in their hands. The wheeler-dealers who are never too far. And help crack the codes that best of intelligence agencies may fail to unlock. Author has skillfully left a few open ends like the corruption angle of the PM’s father, and the real genesis of Nehru name in DPM’s claim to fame. I assume they will be dealt in the next book if there is one being planned. A few new characters have been added. Like a Malayali Intelligence chief, and Oriya bureaucrat and a couple of mixed breed first-time politicians. Old protagonists have been strengthened, like a Ram-Lakshman Jodi, highlighting one’s characteristics by making them absent in the other.

Women have been sidelined throughout the story. And mostly play the role of supporting wives, piling on sisters-in-law or appealing journalists. Giving a signal that politics remains a male dominant profession give and take an exception. Social media also gets a mention towards the end of the story. An indication of the time when it became relevant for the politicians. Or indicating the time when the author got hooked on to the internet and realized it as a medium that impacts politicians. And can be a good tool in their hands. A dreamy author wishfully makes Teen Murti Bhavan the official residence of Prime Minister.

The War Ministry was a book I was looking forward to reading. So my expectations were a bit high. There was a huge gap between the last book and this. So the earlier story and characters sometimes got lost in mind. There are a lot of new characters introduced in this book and I got lost in them. Especially they have confusing names and are called by various variations of their names – sometimes by the first name and sometimes by the last name. A small thing but can break the flow of reading, as you have to go back and see who is who?

Overall a good read, one of the few political fictions worth your time.

You may buy this book – The War Ministry by Krishan Partap Singh at Amazon.

The War Ministry by Krishan Pratap Singh

15 COMMENTS

  1. Would love to read a copy of this book. One suspects things reading and watching the news these days, and it should be fun to go through this , and suddenly realize that what you suspected might actually be true sometimes !

  2. After the speculative thrillers of Ludlum and the evocative magic realism of Rushdie, it would be nice to read an Indian author’s fictionalization of contemporary Indian politics. I came to learn about Krishan Partap Singh only through the posts on your blog, Anuradha,and yes, you have triggered my interest to read his work.

  3. I love to read political subjects, but never had an opportunity to read Krishan Pratap Singh. Hopefully I will get an opportunity to do so. . The review gives me a feeling that the book must be eminently readable. Good luck yo the author.
    .

  4. Unlike the US, phrases & terms like intel agencies, agents, war room etc are not so well known (or heard) in Indian context…but mention of coalition politics, corruption, soc/med & journalists taking forward the agendas of the parties they support & all this sounds like a fiction inspired by real events in India 😉

    As usual a good & detailed review from Anuradha.

  5. I cannot give a very specific reason about why I want to be reading this book other than the fact that I am an avid reader and my choice of books range across several genres. And to whet my appetite for books I grab at every opportunity that allows me to expand my horizons of authors and their books new to me.
    For the fact that I haven’t read any of the KPS previous novels but am very keen on reading his Raisina series due to the recent surge in the popularity of the same.

  6. Politics is just a synonym for a thriller… and I’m interested to read thrillers written by Indians writing in English. Yes, there are plenty who have attempted… but I would love to read more to have an opinion on the TQ or thriller quotient of Indian writers.
    Obviously, I will review the book after I’ve read it.

    You are welcome to read my reviews here:
    http://www.passey.info

  7. Congratulations Major M.N.K.Menon and Rasana Atreya ( she commented on the FB page) for winning an author signed copy each of the book.

    A big Thank You to all of you who participated in the Give Away, on behalf of AnuReviews, and Author K P Singh.

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