He is the nicest guy we know. Polite, quiet and the perfect gentleman. And then there is the other guy — brash, with a 100 cc motor in his mouth and doing things on a rather regular basis that are far from neighbourly. And yet, we all seem to love the bad guy! O Tempora! O Mores! O TRPs! A survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies has found that over the week of September 21-28, Indian television channels devoted thrice as much air time to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf than they did to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Granted, the General had written a book that had desi experts falling over each other — and in some cases, biting each other — to review it. But then, even if Mr Singh had come up with his all-holds-barred autobiography at the same time, would the results have been any different?
Dislike him or hate him, you have to give it to Islamabad’s bad guy that he compels attention, sometimes at the point of a gun. A day after Mr Musharraf released his book in faraway New York, Mr Singh celebrated his 74th birthday. One only hopes that he had insisted that there be a media gag on its coverage. For all you know, informed journalists may have gone to the Pakistani President for a sound bite about his felicitations to the Indian Prime Minister.
The truth of the matter is that the good — or even the more competent — guys don’t always make the best showmen. Between God and the Devil, between Ram and Ravana, we all know who the more colourful personality is. Fortunately, Statecraft is not only about the image, is it? Unless, of course, we do get to see Manmohan Singh on Oprah one day.