I never thought a day would come when I would feel sorry for Arun Nehru. The day has come.
I divide the Nehrus into two groups: those I like and those I do not much care for. Jawaharlal Nehru I like, admire, respect, loveÖno, not worship. You do not worship gods also. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, I like; Krishna Hutheesing, not particularly; B.K. Nehru, All right; Indira Gandhi, I do not care for; Sanjay Gandhi; given the chance he would have destroyed the country; Maneka Gandhi, I like, at least she believes in whatever she is doing; Rajiv Gandhi, he is a not-so-innocent fool; and Arun Nehru, I have always thought of him as a malevolent presence.
The first time I saw him was at the Olympic swimming-pool in Delhi, two days before the start of the Asian Games. There were three of them together: Arun Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and Buta Singh. Neither Nehru nor Gandhi were ministers or government official or anything else, they had simply imposed themselves on the Asian Games and nobody had the courage to challenge them their locus standi. Buta Singh was the only minister, he was the minister for sports, but he was behaving like he was their private secretary or worse.
Rajiv Gandhi had climbed to one of the diving boards and was from there inspecting the construction and finding faults. Suddenly he noticed some paint had chipped off, and shouted down: "Buta, come here." Mr. Buta Singh went running up. Mr. Arun Nehru staryed below, partly to show his independence, partly because he could not have physically climbed those stairs.
After that, I saw the three of them regularly during the two weeks of the Asian Games, strutting up and down the stadia and generally behaving as if they had invented the Games.
If was during this period that Rajiv Gandhi built his reputation and Arun Nehru helped him to. Later, Buta Singh, as a temporary reward, was made home minister.
In the first few years of the Gandhi government. Arun Nehru called all the shots. He was the prime minister's only backroom boy. Then, as it happens with most of Rajiv Gandhi's friends, and as it used to happen with Indira Gandhi's friends, Mr. Gandhi became suspicious of him and the two fell out.
Mr. Nehru was forced out of the Congress, started the Jan Morcha, joined the Janata Dal, became a minister again, lost his ministership, tried to return to the Congress. And though Mr. Gandhi is talking back a lot of Congressmen, he knows whom not to take.
In Indian politics, it is difficult to pronounce anybody's career as finished. But in Mr. Arun Nehru's case, I think, it may be said so. Which means one politician less to bother about.