The Washington Post dart delivered at the incumbent of 7 Race Course Road has the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) sprinting into an overdrive to carry out a damage-control exercise that entails launching a counter-media offensive.
Here are excerpts from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first interview after the Post article, to be published in, well, none other than the 'Bluffington Post'.
Tragedy king: To set the record straight, the PMO is pained at the "tragic" tag conferred on the Prime Minister and would like to put this media portrait in perspective. It is our bounden duty to enlighten the Washington Post that likening the Prime Minister to a tragic figure in a land that has produced iconic and unparalleled Tragedy Kings such as Dilip Kumar, a la Devdas, smacks of its scarce knowledge about the cultivation of the tragic cult in India.
For, given such a rich legacy of tragic icons in the Indian Hall of Frame (72'), any resemblance that the prime ministerial visage may bear to that of a tragic figure dead or alive is purely experimental. Experimental, since it may be seen as a preparation for a prospective portfolio that could expand Dr Manmohan Singh's repertoire beyond that of "the architect of India's economic reforms … and the intellectual technocrat" to that of an act-o-crat.
That is, in case he has to seek alternative employment in the performing arts on being compelled to switch his present job. His look of a tragic figure is being experimented with as part of his rehearsal for an alternative role-call, say, as the prospective lead of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's tragic sequel, 'Devdas, Too!'
Gate crashing: While the Washington Post references to 'Coalgate' are relevant, it must be kept in mind that we are not the first ones to gatecrash into this lexicon of scandal-spurred suffixes of the Gate variety, be it Monicagate, Watergate, Nipplegate and all such scams worth their weight, that owe their origin to the land of Lewinsky Ltd.
In giving to Indian politics the latest Coalgate scandal we are only trying to enrich our parliamentary vocabulary on the lines of what Richard Nixon did for the global political lexicon.
Never mind if, like the Americans, we do not have both Gates and Gate, we can at least follow the latter tradition in letter and spirit and cultivate scams that can spell the expansion of the political idiom spawned by the infamous Watergate scandal.
*If you have spawned Monicagate, the mother of all sex scandals, we have given birth to Tewarigate, the father of all paternity scams.
*If you have Sachsgate thanks to your electronic media, we have Sexgate for our print media courtesy the Shivani scandal.
*If you had a Climate-gate to cast a shadow on a conference about carbon credit, we have a Coalgate to create the climate for our coalition's discredit.
So, it is hardly conducive for the Indo-US bilateral climate to depict the Manmohan government as a Gatecrasher into scandal folklore. Power failure: Instead of projecting the Indian PM as being in "danger of going down in history as a failure", it is of utmost importance to first ascertain the epicentre of the failure in India.
Projections by the Post stem from a geo-positionary ignorance about the flow of power on the Indian terra firma. To attribute the sad state of affairs to the "failure" of the coalition at the Centre is to turn a blind eye to a backstage state-level alliance in a certain corridor of power whose agenda it has been not to share seat but to power cheat.
To think of the Capital as the epicentre of the recent failure is to overlook the role that subversive states have played in scripting India's 'dark' hour.
For, the Great Indian Power Failure of the season has happened not in South Block but in the Northern Grid.
This being the true picture of the power 'block', how unfounded has been the Post-scripted Manmohangate, only Time will tell.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based columnist