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   The question that most people are concerned about... (September 25, 1987)

The question that most people are concerned about, including the members of the opposition, is who should be the leader of the combined opposition formed to agitate for the holding of a midterm poll? The question assumes considerable importance because whoever is appointed the leader will have to lead the opposition in the mid-term poll, and, in the event the opposition wins, which is likely at present, he will be the next prime minister.

This automatically eliminates Mr. N. T. Rama Rao. I mean, you cannot like Swami Vivekananda one day and like a hero of a South Indian mythological film (which he is) the next day. Mr. NTR is a bit of a well meaning joke, and, alright as chief minister of Andhra, but not as prime minister of India.

Mr. Devi Lal may also be eliminated on same and other grounds. Besides, I cannot think of a single person voting for him outside Haryana, though also I cannot think of a single person not voting for him in Haryana.

Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde is the one most tipped as the next Prime Minister. But that was at least two years back. Since then much water has flown down the Cauvery or whatever river they have in Karnataka. Besides, his health is not what it should be for the strenuous life of an Indian Prime Minister, who is all the time hopping about from state to state. Consider Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, he was also never a very strong man and he died in office.

The other Janata candidate that may be considered is Mr. Madhu Dandavate. But so far, I have not heard one person mention him even in the vaguest of terms as Prime Minister. He is, no doubt, a good man. But good men do not make good prime minister look at Mr. Gandhi himself.

Mr. Arun Nehru is out. He may not be a good man, which is a qualification, but he is also a bully, arrogant, dictatorial, which are major disqualifications for prime minister in democracies.

His temporary protégé, Mr. V. P. Singh, is also out, though a lot people may at this moment want him to be in. For one thing, we do not know whether he is a good man or a bad man. We know nothing about Mr. Singh, beyond the fact that he resigned as minister at a time when things were becoming awkward for him. Also, he tends to preach too much, and we have had one eminent preacher as prime minister…..with disastrous results. So, eliminate Mr. Singh.

His sidekick, Mr. V. C. Shukla, does not deserve to be even in the combined opposition, leave aside being its leader. It should never be forgotten that he was the worst, the crudest of tall Emergency ministers. He is the danger man of democracy.

Mr. H. R. Bahuguna is the prince of defectors and we cannot have a prime minister who may suddely defect. And Mr. Chandra Shekhar is too simple and too naïve a person to be anything except the honorary President of the Janta Party.

Which leaves only Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee. And whether the leftists like him or not, he seems to be the only choice. Unless, of course we decide to carry on with Mr. Gandhi, which come to think of it, would not be such a bad idea.

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