In no other profession does life take such unexpected, sudden and dramatic turns as it does in politics. Mikhail Gorbachov's is only the latest case, though possibly one of the most outstanding examples. Till yesterday he was the toast of the world. Single-handedly he had freed the Soviet economy, lifted the iron curtain, withdrawn from Easter Europe, opened talks with America and the West, reduced the stockpile of arms, dicarded communism as an ideology and a political systerm, turned more than 40 years of confrontation between the power blocs into cooperation and co-existence. For his signal conributions, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the greatest and most recongnised honour in the world.
And overnight, in a coup has so far been bloodless, he has been overthrown, shorn of his powers and placed under arrest. The KGB walks again.
Power, it is once again established, does not last; in one form or another it is taken away. He who rises too high, has to fall (I am not referring to Pritish Nandy). And happy is the person who, at the height of his success, remembers that all this may not last and he may have to return to his humble beginnings and is prepared for this.
With dictactors this is more common that with others. Those who rise with the power of the gun, fall to the gun. Ferdinand Marcos, Duvalier, the Shah of Iran, they all fell, though all of them managed to go into exile with a good deal of the national wealth in their numbered accounts. The Shah's was the saddest case of all; when he lost his power, he also lost his health. In his final days, as he succmbed to cancer, Egypt was the only country that was prepared to keep him.
Idi Amin should have been drawn, quarted and kiled. Instead, he is leading a retired life in some obsure Arb country. Now which one it it? Nearer home, there was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Not only was he deposed by an army general, but he was hanged after a trial that was conducted practically in camera. That was uncivilised.
Indira Gandhi, at the peak of her power, also fell, but that was through an electon that she herself had called in great and misdirected confidence. Still, she could not take the defeat and the sudden and enexpected fall, and it took her some time to recover.
But Mrs. Gandhi recovered and returned to power. With Mr. Gorbachov it is less likely. When the Soviet system finished somebody he is finished. And with him Ė perestroika is finished.