Even a tentative suggestion that the old man may have overplayed his hand and could himself be consumed by the forces he has so meticulously let loose is greeted with instant disagreement. The denizens of Lutyens' Delhi are convinced that Mr Rao has one last Prithvi missile up his sleeve which he will fire if things get too hot for him personally. No one seems to know at whom the missile is targeted or what ammo it contains; there is only the certainty that PV's bag of tricks is not yet empty.
We will soon know the truth. However, what is instructive is the manner in which Hawalagate has so dramatically, and perhaps irrevocably, changed the public perception of Rao—from full-time ditherer to all-purpose Machiavelli.