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   A lot of people are saying that the new cabinet... (November 27, 1990)

A lot of people are saying that the new cabinet is a faceless cabinet. This is not quite true, some of its members have faces.

Mr. Chandra Shekhar himself has been know for two decades and over the years has been among the dozen best-know faces in the country. He was the Young Turk in Mrs. Gandhi's party, then, when he defied the Emergency and was imprisoned, he became a hero. The story goes that once Bansi Lal, one of the villians of the Emergency, visited the prison and sneered at a defiant Mr. Shekhar. Shekhar, in turn, showed him a cell next to his which was empty. "It is being kept for you," he told him.

When the Janata came to power, Chandra Shekhar could have got a plum post in the cabinet, but he kept out. He became the party president, but he was very much on the center stage, and he has remained so ever since.

Mr. Devi Lal is also a know face, though he came into national prominence only a year or two back, when the Lok Dal and the Jan Morcha got together to form the Janata Dal and began its election campaign. Now he is a face (somewhat comical but still a face), his elder son is a face, his younger son is a face.

The other familiar face in the cabinet is Mr. Subramaniam Swamy. He Emergency, but while Mr. Shekhar went to prison, he escaped to American and carried on a campaign from there. Then one day, unknown to everybody, he was found siting quietly in the parliament. But before the Emergency Congress could gather their wits and have him arrested, he stood up, bowed to the speaker, got out of the house and disppeared. The only trace he left behind was his signature in the parliament register.

Of course, the press was under censorship, so this story, like so many other good stories of the Emergency, was not reported at that time, it was only told in whispers.

Another familiar face is Mr. V.C. Shukla. He was the villian of the Emergency and the man who introduced, implemented and executed the press censorship. Once he told journalists that he would have them shipped like curs. At least Mr. V.P. Singh had the sense and the decency not to include him in his cabinet. Why Mr. Chandra Shekhar has done so, only he can explain. As only he can explain. As only he can explain why he has included Dr. Sanjay Singh and takes him with him everywhere.

Finally, there is Mrs. Maneka Gandhi. And she certainly is not faceless.

And, at a later date, when more faceless faces acquire faces, I will add to this list.

 
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