Newspaper editors are not the only people who think Mr. Rajiv Gandhi has failed and is not doing his job. Mr. Gandhi himself feels so.
A senior secretary in the government recounted the following incident to me, which he said took place at a cabinet meeting last week:
Mr. Gandhi was telling his cabinet colleagues: "You people must learn to do your own jobs and not bother me with your domestic problems. I have go enough work of my own to do and I am neglecting it. I have not issued a single statement on South Africa in the last one week."
Mr. Buta Singh, who some say is Mr. Gandhi's principal yes man, said: "Sir, the whole world is awaiting your firm and forthright statements on South Africa. Now, if I may have your advice on this latest matter between Mr. Barnala and Mr. Badal Singh."
Mr. Gandhi: "Butaji, that is your affair, you settle it. am I to worry about Punjab when all the African frontline states are waiting for a lead from me to determine the policy of Pan-Africa."
Mr. V. P. Singh looked up from his notes and said: "I do not know how the finance ministry will be able to bear the additional burden of financially compensating Haryana for the loss of Chandigrah and assist it in building its own new capital. I would appreciate if the Prime Minister will throw some light on it."
"You get your finance secretaries together and work out how you can raise the money. I have to work out a cease-fire between Iraq and Iran so that they do not lose any more of their fast dwindling oil money on a disastrous and fruitless war. I may have to call an international conference at Vigyan Bhavan for that."
The defence minister caught Mr. Gandhi's eye and said: "You will have to let us know whether we go ahead with building a wall on our border with Pakistan or have just barbed wires. We will do whatever you say, because you know best."
"Let us not worry about what I know best and what I don't," Mr. Gandhi said. "You people decide whether we should have a stone wall or a barbed wire, I have to conduct delicate negotiations with Pakistan on the Afghan Mujhahedeen using Pakistan as their base for attacks on the Soviet-presence in Afghanistan."
Mr. Vasant Sathe, who they say has not been in the news ever since he made television into colour, spoke: "As a minister from Maharashtra, I wish to draw the Prime Minister's attention to the deteriorating situation on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border and urge tht he devote his immediate attention to it."
"Appoint a commission, if you like, I have no time," said Mr. Gandhi. "The relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States has not for some time been as bad as it is now. On behalf of that part of the world that we called civilised, I have to make another round of visits to Moscow and Washington and present my self."