The chief asked me to interview Mr. L.K. Advani in prison. "Do a report on how badly he is treated by his jailers," he said.
For security reasons I cannot tell you till after November 7 where exactly this prison is located I may only reveal that it is in an inspection bunglow at the edge of a dam. The grounds around abound with natural flora and fauna and the weather is continuously cool with the spary of the water falling from over the dam.
Mr. Advani was kept in solitary confinement in the VVIP suite. He was sipping Lepchu tea, eating Britannia's coconut biscuit and RTI's sponge cake. He poured out a cup for me from a silver tea service and said: "That is all I can offer you, I am afraid. Simple prison fare."
"Life in prison must be hard," I said.
"Yes, it is, but you have to accept it," Mr. Advani said, like a true politician who is used to being locked up in prison. "I am allowed to take walks in the grounds, but only for a limited period, from 8 o'clock in the evening."
"Tough," I said! "They must be starving you."
"Well, in a way," Mr. Adani Said. "You see, there is food any time I want I have to press this bell and they get it for me. But it is all five-star, and how long canyou eat five-star food! You get bored with it."
"Yes, that is always the trouble with this prison diet," I said. "I don't suppose they allow prisoners any newspapers."
"They do. But what is there to read in the newspapers! All lies. And all the news is about Mulayam Singh Yadav, the BJP viewpoint is never projected. I told the jail superintendent I don't want any newspapers, but he said that according to the jail manual he had to supply me with newspapers, whether I liked them or not."
"A prisoner's lot is never easy," I said: "Your health must be totally down."
"I don't care about health and all that, but it must be donw," Mr. Advani said. "That is why three doctors are in attendance over me, taking my blood-pressure and pulse all the time and giving me vitamin pills. And there is an ambulance waiting outside, you must have passed it on your way here."
"Yes," I said. "What about your family? I am sure they have not allowed you to get in touch with them."
"They would not," he said. "All I am allowed is to telephone my wife seven times in a day, if icontact her more than that, I have to pay the STD charges myself."
"Have you though of esape?" I asked.
"I have. But my friends tell me if I escape from a life like this, people will think I am mad and they will never vote for me to become prime minister."