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The Truth And Mr Narasimha Rao

The Truth And Mr Narasimha Rao
ONE of the things that politicians and journalists find difficult to accept is that politics is not about reality, it is about perceptions of reality. And the gulf between reality and perception can at times be disconcertingly wide. An American journalist 20 years ago wrote a brilliant book called The Selling of the President, in which he described in hilarious detail how a creep like Nixon was made likeable to the American masses.

The reality about S.K. Jain's diaries is blindingly clear. Narasimha Rao is no Gandhian crusader for clean public life; he is just using the scandal to ensure he remains Prime Minister for the next five years. The public perception, however, is different. Reports coming in from different parts of the country confirm that PV's gambit is slowly but surely paying off. For the last few weeks, Rao's people have been putting it about—they have immortalised the phrase "let the law take its own course"—that their man took his political life in hand, destabilised his own party, betrayed his closest friends, rocked the system because he felt the time had come to launch a frontal assault on corruption. Needless to say, this is a perversion of the truth because Mr Rao had been living quite happily with rampant corruption till just a month or so ago. But, as I noted earlier, in a situation where crafty politicians are determined to cling to power, truth is the first casualty. Dr Murli Manohar Joshi told me recently: "Politics these days is not the last refuge of scoundrels, it is the first refuge." In his case, he was probably referring to one L.K. Advani.

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