ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Single-Leader Principle

WE are taking a great deal of time getting over our obsession with single leaders. The arrival of Rajiv Gandhi through an embarrassing dynastic process could have signalled a change for thinking Indians more concerned with issues than with personalities, but the obsession is worse than ever. It is little short of Rajiv peddling, and as a counteir there is the flicker of baiting too. What with the daily (hourly?) outpourings of Akashvani and Doordarshan, and the effort of the press to reduce R K Hegde, Jyoti Basu and N T Rama Rao to political inanity by overplaying every favourable reference they make to Rajiv Gandhi, we also have new recruits to an agit-prop that warns against 'negativism', whatever that might mean in the lexicon of democracy. We even have political controversy around this theme. The Rajiv-baiters are not far behind. They live in the make-belief wo rid of Indira Gandhi where fiats issued from a single office in Delhi. They talk democracy, but actually preach the need for uncontested power. They cannot hide their contempt for federalism, and see in it all the ingredients of an Indian dismemberment. That Rajiv Gandhi is sensitive to such federal pressures, because he realises that he cannot survive in the old centralist frame, is enough to spark the twisted attack. The logic of the situation is conveniently forgotten.

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