Nine fine men

Debarati Palit Singh
Saturday, 2 September 2017

Lawyer and author Shweta Bansal tells us what prompted her to write about nine lawyers from politics in her book Courting Politics

Lawyer and author Shweta Bansal has achieved a rare feat. She has brought together nine well-known personalities from the field of law and politics, to talk about their life and journey in her book — Courting Politics. The book, published by the Eastern Book Company, documents the lives of Ram Jethmalani, Shanti Bhushan, P Chidambaram, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Kapil Sibal, Arun Jaitley, Salman Khurshid, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

The book is divided into nine chapters; each dedicated to a dignitary and discussing the journey of the protagonist highlighting the ups and downs in their professional and personal lives.

The writer says that it’s an attempt to look into their lives not just as politicians and lawyers but as human beings.

Kanpur-born Bansal was left differently-abled after she met with an accident during childhood, but that did not deter her from completing her BA, LLB. She went on to work with Amarchand Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. She also cleared her civil services examination and after a three-year long battle with the government, regarding her rank and cadre, gave up her career as a lawyer to join the Indian Foreign Services.

Please tell us about Courting Politics.
If we see the numbers, the Indian Parliament is headed, layered and controlled by legal luminaries. I discovered that these lawyers in politics have not been written about. Only blinkered and incomplete stories float about them in the public domain, which barely do justice to their lives and achievements. When I researched, I realised that no one has discussed this idea of lawyers in politics in a book in India and definitely not explored it through personal stories. I saw an opportunity and took it head-on. I developed the idea further and interviewed all nine men for almost two years to understand, build and write their stories.

You have written about personalities like Ram Jethmalani, Shanti Bhushan, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and others. Was it a challenge getting them to talk about their journey?
Coordinating with their busy schedules was the only challenge. However, they were magnanimous with their time and generous with their words.

Politicians are known for giving politically correct answers, so how did you make sure that they spoke with honesty?
They are all experienced people and I am sure we managed to build a mutual trust and understanding. The intention was to tell their stories accurately and honestly instead of spreading half-baked information about them.

What has been your take-away from the whole process,  individually and as a lawyer?
This has been a huge learning curve. Through their lives, I have understood that men can be born great but they become extraordinary because of their courage, determination, hard work, skill set and perseverance.

Who was the most interesting person in the list of the nine lawyers?
Honestly, that’s hard to pick. Each individual’s story has been very interesting and it will be unfair to choose one. Each one of them is special in their own way.

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