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|October 6, 1999||
Pall of gloom over Manmohan's home
A Ganesh Nadar in New Delhi
The muzzle of an AK-47 was clearly visible over the gate. I could not think of anybody in the world who would want to harm Dr Manmohan Singh.
My press card opened the gate.
"Front office," said the security guard. The lawn was beautifully watered and trimmed -- like Manmohan Singh himself. I could see members of his team discussing something in soft voices. There were three young men outside the front office. One of them showed me the way with a slight turn of the head, a shift of the eyes. Indeed, a model of economic movement.
Inside, I found one gentleman on the phone.
He took time off to tell me, "He is speaking to journalists now you can join them." We came out but learnt that the journos had already left.
The man nodded sadly, then asked me to sit down.
Dr Singh clearly has many wellwishers. First one Mercedes Benz came up and deposited a visitor. In its wake came a more down-market Esteem followed by another Mercedes Benz to correct the balance. All the occupants went into the house with long faces, and emerged with even longer ones. The men in the Esteem had this optimistic comment for the PA: "We will wait for better days."
I sought to meet Mrs Singh at least. The answer was a sharp 'No!'
"Why do you want to meet her? She is only a housewife." So much for the exalted position of the hausfrau in post-modern India.
I get a glass of cold water from an earthen pot. After 15 minutes the PA, O P Bhatia, came back and said, "I'm sorry but he does not want to talk to journalists; in fact, he doesn't want to talk to anybody. He even told me I should not connect him [over the phone] with anyone."
I was walking out disappointed when I noticed the inspector in charge of security .He had his chin in his hand. He looked very doleful indeed. In his eyes I could see the question, "Can an honest man ever win?' The answer is pretty obvious in a country that carefully picks Laloos, Mulayams and Jayalalithas as fit candidates for high office.
I gave the man our mobile number and he promised to call me back.
I don't know if I want to meet Singh now. I don't think I have the guts to look upon his sad face. I've always remembered him as a smiling sardar who used to quote Urdu couplets before slapping a hefty tax on us.
But the fact that he did meet the press and is not hiding like the rest of the Congress bigwigs speaks much for the man. Also, there were no hanger-ons at his home, but then, losers seldom attract the flies.
Uttara, one journalist who had met him earlier, said, "He looked extremely sad and said, 'I want to thank my supporters and I accept the mandate of the people.' "
Like they say in the south, Makkalu theerpu Mahesan theerpu. 'The people's verdict is god's verdict.' Perhaps his PA had a point when he said, "Honest people have no place in politics."
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