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   Some of our political leaders and would-be prime ministers... (May 20, 1991)

Some of our political leaders and would-be prime ministers at least look sincere, others don't. For instance, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi is looking more pompous, arrogant and born-to-rule than ever before. The additional weight and decreasing hair make him look like an oily Congressman. And at a time when the country is in flames, he is still talking about India's (and his own role in the world).

Eyewitness, the Hindustan Times video news magazine, in its May election special, has interviewed all the contenders, for the prime minister's post. Each one is asked a question as to what would be his priorities as prime minister. Only Mr. Gandhi talks of re-establishing India's rold in the worl. So now we know what we are heading for. And the tragedy is that the best party in the country has the worst leader.

Mr. Chandra Shekhar does look sincerely. With a face like that he cannot look anything other than blunt and oepn and forthnight. But, perhaps, he takes his image too seriously, being continuously irritated by poor, untutored and unprofessional reporters.

There is also a tendency of his that I do not much care for. When he gives an interview, he has all his hangers-on around him. Then, as he counters the reporter's question with a brash joke, he looks at his audience and laughs. In this context, the Kerala chief minister, whatever his name is, is worse. In the same Eyewitness, he attacks some poor girl reporters if being ill-informed about Kerala, then he looks at his admiring audience and tells it how he is putting the girl in her place. Eyewitness, bless itm reproduces his comments in English sub-titles. The silver lining is that he will never be the prime minister. And though stranger things will not happen.

Mr. V.P. Singh could be prime minister again. And he both looks sincere and acts with a certain sincerity. I mean, the fact remains that in the interest of secularism, he did give up his khursi. True or only partially true, of how many other prime ministers can this be said!

Mr. L.K. Advani also looks sincere, at least on such occasions when he is not addressing an audience of saffron sadhus. To come back to Eyewitness, it asked him if he objected to being compared to R.K. Laxman's common man, a gentleman to whom he bears a remarkable resemblance. Mr. Advani replied that he considered it a great compliment, to be thought of as a common man and one of the perople. The point is: will Laxman's common man take that as a compliment!

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