I am happy to inform that Mr. Gandhi's final warning to Doordarshan officials not to project him on TV has been taken quite seriously and all efforts are being made not to do so.
A senior official of Doordarshan was telling me about it: "We have to obey orders. If Rajivji does not wish to appear on TV, we have to see that he does not appear. All our cameramen have been instructed accordingly."
"Good," I said.
The official cut off a clip of Mr. Gandhi viewing a flood in Andhra from an air force plane, then continued: "The best thing to do would be, of course, not to depute a Doordarshan crew anywhere near a place where Rajivji is going to be present, but this is not always possible, there are other minister present at the place who have to be photographed."
"I see the point," I said.
The official cut off a clip or Mr. Gandhi having an aerial view of a drought in Karnataka from a helicopter: "The next best thing to do is to edit the films dealing with Rajivji's functions. Where ver his face appears, snip it off. We have appointed a special team of editors to do this and we are very pleased with their work."
"I am happy to hear that," I said.
The official cut off a clip of Mr. Gandhi watching a naval rescue on the high seas from on board the INS Vikrant: "We are not clear whether Rajivji does not want to be only not see on TV but also not heard. In his note to Gadgilji, he has not been clear on this point, and Gadgilji, of course, cannot ask him."
"No, he dare not do that," I said.
"We can only assume he does not want to be heard," the official said. "But this makes things a little difficult. We have to show Rajivji addressing a public meeting without showing him actually doing so and without even recording his voice. The only thing we can do is to concentrate the cameras on the crowds."
"Tough," I said, "but I am sure you will surmount that difficulty."
The official cut off a clip of Mr. Gandhi in a bullock-cart, riding through a sugarcane farm in Maharashtra: "On tours of tribal areas, instead of showing the tribals talking to Rajivji, we are now showing the tribals talking and Mani Shankar Aiyarji making notes of what they say."
"That's sensible," I said.
"We are even cutting out Soniaji from all our films," the official said, cutting out a clip of Mrs. Gandhi riding in a car with Mrs. Gorbachov in Moscow.
"I must say you are following Mr. Gandhi's instructins in letter and spirit," I said.
"Yes," said the official. "No longer can he call us useless."