Outweighing his handicaps, the PM has one major plus point. He remains committed to peace with Pakistan. That's the only guarantee of the subcontinent's progress.
At the time of the Agra summit, this column had described how it was sabotaged by groups working in tandem, in both India and Pakistan. Eventually, the summit failed because the word terrorism in the final draft could not be replaced by 'cross-border terrorism'. L.K. Advani was responsible for that. But he has come a long way since then. Today, he even roots for an Indo-Pak confederation.
The PM knows he can make one last attempt for peace with Pakistan. This time he doesn't want to botch it up. That's why he wants the reshuffle. The PM is the only one in the cabinet genuinely committed to peace with Pakistan. His colleagues think he is reaching for the moon. We might therefore describe the PM as the 'moonie' in the cabinet.
His colleagues are political pawns manipulated by one foreign lobby or another. They support the lunatic proposition that India can befriend China and isolate Pakistan, and thereby buy peace. They are the 'loonies'.
To succeed, the PM must replace the loonies with the moonies. But there are no other moonies. He therefore needs loyalists who survive on "chamchagiri". They are the 'spoonies'. If the PM relies on the spoonies, he might succeed. If he tries using moderate loonies to contain the extremist ones, he could fail.
Already, the prospects appear bleak. The global big boys have swung into action. Donald Rumsfeld visited India and Pakistan to undo apparently what Colin Powell's deputy Richard Armitage had accomplished just days earlier! That emboldened Musharraf to withdraw his pledge of permanently ending cross-border terrorism. Taking the cue, the VHP simultaneously reversed its commitment to the Muslims on Ayodhya. So tension returns.
This makes the reshuffle dicey. By the time this column appears, readers will know how the moonies, loonies and spoonies stand.
To score a crucial goal
You need a loyal team
Not pushing you in a hole
To demolish your dream!