Having heard a lot about Khula Manch and not having viewed it, Sunday night, after the news (it appears to be as inadequate as during the previous government's time), I settled down to see Mr. I.K. Gujral performing.
Mr. Gujral looked his usual self, I am suspicious of men who grow beards, and more suspicious of those who grow goatees. It is an affectation dificult to digest. The only people a goatee suited are Gogia pasha, Sardar Panniket and my violin tutor, Professor Athaide (they are all late now).
The moderators were a man and woman, both rather young, but I have nothing against youth. In fact, I am all for it. The man was the same that Mr. George Fernandes had dismissed as a juvenile delinquent. I would not go as far as that, but everytime he asked a question, or otherwise interjected, he seemed to leet… knowingly. The woman moderator, I noticed, had as much difficulty controlling him as the panel of questioners.
The questioners had been selected from the four corners and the centre of India. The moderators did not have to tell were they from, you could make that out, from their accent. A couple of them were well-known faces: one of them a former foreign secretary whom the arrogant Rajiv Gandhi had sacked from his job in full public view (Mr. Gujral kept referring to him as his friend venkat, which I though was being a little too familiar in full view of the public); the other was a gentleman who writes learned political treatises in the Calcutta Telegraph…
Most of the question were inane. That was to be expected, neither the questioners nor the minister being experts in foreign affairs. Mr. Gujral kept talking about how the safely of the Indians in Kuwait was his main priority, though he evidently did not help them much by openly siding with the iraqui aggressors and thus putting the Indians in the bad books of the Kuwaitis.
Mr. Gujral is a lightweight minister. He was Indira Gandhi's minister for information and broadcasting, and next to B.V. Keskar and the present incumbent, he was the least effective I&B minister we have had. If the prime minister we have had. If the prime minister wanted to bring him out of the India International Centre library, he should have made him deputy for tourism. And he should have made Mufti Mohammad Sayeed minister for tourism.
Having said all this, I could not possibly have been impressed by last Sunday's Khula Manch. I was not.