Narasimha Rao has done for the laws of inertia, what even Newton couldn’t. Or so it would seem, judging from the kudos he has received for his "inaction is the best action" principle.
G Sanjeeva Reddy, president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress and a Rao confidant, talks about the Prime Minister very animatedly. He claims to have observed Rao at very close quarters since the ‘60s, the time they were colleagues in the Brahamanand Reddy cabinet in Andhra Pradesh. "He does not cut a dynamic, heroic figure, straddling the political scene like a colossus. But then he never has," says Reddy. "He is a deep thinker and not a man of immediate action. And it has paid him dividends. He is still in power, has consolidated his position and is looking good for a second term," he adds.
Power, obviously, is the ultimate aphrodisiac and inaction goes under many aliases.
And the euphemisms continue. "It is not only his ability to resist the temptation to take instinctive decisions and go in for cheap popularity that has put Rao in a position of strength to lead the Congress again into the electoral fray, it is also the fact that he has made it a point never to attack his opponents personally. He is really the most inoffensive, non-provocative man, as seen in his attitude towards the Bofors scandal and the stock scam," says Reddy. Recollecting their days in the Andhra cabinet, Reddy says: "Rao never got up to say anything except when he was asked to. But when he did, he had all the facts on his fingertips."
Reddy claims that it is this lack of a tangible target for the opposition to attack and their inability to cast Rao as the villain of the piece, despite the "suitcase allegations and the like", that has really helped both the party and the man.
What about the Prime Minister’s reported faith in astrology and his belief in godmen and rituals? "You must look at this in its proper perspective. The Prime Minister comes from a upper-caste Hindu family of Telengana and believes in God. Prayer has been a part of his upbringing. He is not the sort of man who will take a stand prematurely. He will listen to all, but do onlyw hat he thinks is right." His weaknesses? "If you must term it that, it’s his complete faith in auspicious dates and time," Reddy reveals. But his real weapon is his patience, feels Reddy. He adds, "If two people go to him with a dispute, he will give them a patient hearing but will remain a silent spectator while they continue squabbling."