Much water, it seems, has flown down the Ganga during my absence.
The elections have been conducted and the Congress has returned to power. Which is a good thing, because, minus the autocratic and at times dictatorial dominance of the Nehru-Gandhi family, there is no political party so compositely representative of all classes, communities and sections of people as the Congress. May it rule long and wisely.
And Mr. V.P. Narasimha rao has become the prime minister. Which may not be as good as Mr. Pawar becoming the prime minister, but is better than Mr. Advani becoming the prime minister. And, in any case, anybody would make a better prime minister than the last three or four we have had. Agreed? Agreed.
And Mr. Rajesh Khanna, I notice, has not done at all badly in taking on Mr. Advani and almost beating him. Which may not be a good certificate for what we thought was the mature and enlightened New Delhi electorate, but is all right for Mr. Khanna.
And Mr. Devi Lal has lost, which is good for the nation, for Haryana, for democracy, and for Mr. Walt Disney, who was in the danger of having his reputation damaged by a cowdung replica of his famous Disneylands.
The good things are the degeats of Mr. N.D. Tiwari, Mr. Gundu Rao, Mr. K. Natwar Singh (that is a very good thing, I dislike self-proclaimed intellectuals), Mr. V.N. Gadgil Mr. Sharad Yadav, very definitely Mr. Sharad Yadav. The bad things are the defeats of Mr. Madhu Dandavate, Mr. Vasant Sathe, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, Mr. M.J. Akbar, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi. The bad things are also the victories of Mr. Shahabuddin and Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan.
I have yet to decide whether Mr. H.K.L. Bhagat's defeat is a good thing or a bad thing. And my advice to Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde is to forget politics, his time has come and gone.
Bad thing is Mr. V.C. Shukla becoming a minister again, Mr. Solanki becoming foreign minister, and Mr. Kamalnath becoming environment minister. After Maneka Gandhi, who? Kamalnath. Good thing is that Mr. Buta Singh has been kept out of the cabinet, as also Mr. Antulay. Though in the latter's case, there was no question of his being ever in.
Good thing is that Mr. Narasimha Rao has no charisma, so there is no chance of any personality cult around him. What the country needs, and has needed since 1965 or thereabouts, is simple people doing simple jobs.
But if I were to select the one best thing that has happened in the country during my absence, it is Mrs. Sonia Gandhi point-blank refusing to takeover. Finally, it was left to a woman, whom most people discarded as the dumbest member of the Gandhi family, to show the path to true democracy.