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   After a long time I saw the distinguished political correspondent... (June 2, 1986)

After a long time I saw the distinguished political correspondent and commentator at the press club bar last night.

I ordered a Kingfisher beer for him, a Haywards for myself, then asked: “What are your editorial views on the climbdown of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the petroleum product pries?”

The distinguished correspondent poured the beer into the glass, drank it, then poured the remaining beer into the glass, drank that, then said: “The position, I would say, is quite clear. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress President, has triumphed over Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the prime minister. It emphasises the role of the party President in a democracy.”

“Yes,” I said \, ordering a Haywards beer for him, a Kingfisher for myself, “then it means this is the first defeat for Prime Minister Gandhi.”

“I would not put it quite like that,” the distinguished editorial writer said. “I would say, as in fact I have for tomorrow morning’s paper, in the interest of the democratic functioning of the parliamentary system, Prime Minister Gandhi has accepted the opinion of President Gandhi and thus allowed the will of the people to prevail.”

I noticed that his glass was empty, so I ordered a Bombay beer for him, a London Pilsner for myself, then asked: “Would you say that some people will interpret this as unnecessary interference this as unnecessary interference in the work of Mr. Gandhi, the prime minister, by Mr. Gandhi, the party President?”

The distinguished commentator said: “There can be several in terpretations of the latest development in the Congress party politics vis-à-vis the government. President Gandhi’s action may be looked on as bearing undue influence on the official functioning of Prime Minister Gandhi. Then again, Prime Minister Gandhi is a practical man, indeed the most practical prime minister we have had as yet, he may welcome the thrust and vigour with which President Gandhi has put forth the views of the rank and file of the party. You must remember, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi is the youngest Congress President we have had so far.”

“True,” I said, ordering a London Pilsner for him, a Bombay beer for myself. “After this development, do you foresee a closer working relationship between Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister, and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Congress President?”

“I do not see why not,” said the corespondent. “After all, two heads are always better than one.”

“Just one more question,” I said. “Do you think the climbdown will affect the prospects of Mr. V. P. Singh?”

“I cannot be definite, but I think it would,” the distinguished political commentator said. “You have to bear in mind that there is only one Mr. V. P. Singh, and, if he continues like this, there will be none.”

 
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