The distinguished political correspondent and commentator was sitting at the Press Club bar…holding forth.
I order two large Red Labels, one for him and one for me, and sodas, no ice, and asked him: “Would you say that the Chandra Shekhar government has failed to deliver the goods?”
The distinguished correspondent drank his Red Label, made a face, then said: “That is correct. But I would not blame the Janata Dal-S government exclusively for its failures, after all, Mr. Chandra Shekhar inherited the problems from the previous Janata Dal government of Mr. V.P. Singh, including the Mandal Commission agitation, the wavering policy over Ram Janmabhomi, etc. What could be do.”
I ordered two large Black Labels, then asked: “Then you atribute our present problems to Mr. V.P. Singh?”
“Yes and no,” said the distinguished columnist, gently drinking down the Black Label and singhing. “It was not Mr. V.P. Singh who created Kashmir and Punjab, he inherited the two problems which have croded the very fabric of our secular society. You have to blame Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and his Congress party for that.”
I ordered two large Cutty Sarks, then said: “Ah, then you are holding Mr. Rajiv Gandhi responsible for the state of the nation at the end of 1990.”
The correspondent sipped his Cutty Sark, looked around, sipped more, then said: “I would look beyond that. Though they say speak no evil of the dead, the fact remains that it was Mrs. Indira Gandhi who ordered Operation Blue Star, thus permanently alienating the Sikh community, and it was her obsessional chase after personal power that installed incompetent sycophants in ministerial positions.”
“We are getting warmer,” I said, ordering two large Vat 69s. “You are saying that the bloodshed and fire that the country is enveloped in today may be traced back to Indira Gandhi.”
The columinst drank his Vat 69, made a bigger face than when he had drunk his Red Label, then said: “If I were you, I would look further back. Consider what happened during that absurd season when the Janata was in the government, first under Mr. Morarji Desai and then under Charan Singh. The wrong direction that was given to the government til today. Perhaps, it never will be.”
“Ah, I see,” I said, ordering two large Black Dogs, “so it is because of the Janata government that we are suffering today, I suspected that all the time.”
The distiguished correspondent drank his Black Dog, expressed pleasure, then said: “You are welcome to your suspicious, but let me point out that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who divided India, compromised with Jinnah. The present situation, from Srinagar to Ayodhya, is a backlash of Nehru’s compromise.”
I ordered too large Chivas Regals and said: “So Nehru is the one. Sad how even the great can made mistakes whole effects are felt 40 years later.”
The distinguished columinst drank his Chivas Regals, then said: “I would not totally blame Nehru, after all, what inherited was the imperialist and colonialist British legacy.”
“Ah, so it all goes back to the British,” I said, ordering two large J&Bs.
The distinguished corresponded and columnist said: “If you order two large Jack Caniels, I will trace back Ayodhya, Mandal Commission, Punjab, Kashmir, Assam and Mulayam Singh Yadav to the Mughals.”