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

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A Question of Forgiveness

There are, in politics, middle-level dramas that leave a certain grayness, an ambivalence, a collage of mixed feelings, a sense of unaesthetic unravelling. Middle range morality plays neither smack of Brothers Karamazov nor are they as easily forgettable as B-grade movies. They require a different kind of handling. The conviction and possible arrest of Narasimha Rao is one such middle range melodrama.

Politics is replete with morality plays. There are the grand melodramas that are a combination of thrillers, philosophical exercises and spectacles. One thinks of the Shah Commission on the Emergency, the Watergate investigations or the hearings of the South African Truth Commission. There are smaller ones that occur in every police station and ‘mohalla’ and are captured on page two of any national newspaper. These are stories of lovers committing suicide, a neighbourhood clash, a domestic servant murdering his master or vice versa. Thirdly, there are the middle-level dramas that leave a certain grayness, an ambivalence, a collage of mixed feelings, a sense of an unaesthetic unravelling. Middle range morality plays neither smack of Brothers Karamazov nor are they as easily forgettable as B-grade movies. They require a different kind of handling. The conviction and possible arrest of Narasimha Rao is one such middle range melodrama.

The drama emanates not from the trial and conviction of Rao but from the variety of responses to it. Three sets of texts become distinctly clear. There are first the editorial commentaries on it. Secondly, there are surveys of citizen’s responses providing a people’s response to the trial. There is finally the ‘cinematic response’ lurking like an overworked but still vibrant myth in the background.

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