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Lost but not found

One of the burning topics at the moment is whether the Prime Minister should be under the lokpal bill. I would respectfully like to point out that, for him to be in any bill, we have to find him first. For where exactly is the prime minister? Manas Chakravarty writes.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2011 23:09 IST

One of the burning topics at the moment is whether the Prime Minister should be under the lokpal bill. I would respectfully like to point out that, for him to be in any bill, we have to find him first. For where exactly is the prime minister?

We do, of course, once in a while see someone who looks like the PM. But when you recall that Dr Manmohan Singh practically single-handedly dismantled the licence-permit-raj, unshackled the energies of the country's entrepreneurs and liberalised the economy, you begin to harbour strong doubts about whether he's still here. Surely, if he was around, he would have initiated at least some reforms in all these years he has been PM? The fact that he hasn't suggests the person we get a glimpse of on rare occasions may not be the real PM.

That brings us to the question: who is the guy at 7 Race Course Road? Opinion is divided about him being a robot or a double. The deadpan expression, the glazed look and the monotone in which he makes his speeches suggest the former, but critics say only the Japanese have the technology to make such a sophisticated robot and he's certainly not Japanese because he doesn't bow. The way in which cabinet ministers rushed to greet Ramdev made me think for a moment that perhaps Ramdev was the real PM - after all they both had long hair and beards - but a closer look showed no resemblance whatsoever. And anyway, the PM is no cross-dresser.

Some people in the Opposition believe it's Sonia dressed up as Manmohan, but that's laughable because they are often seen together. The Left, of course, thinks the real Manmohan Singh was spirited away long ago and the pretender is a CIA agent, which is why he pushed through the nuclear deal. A more extreme theory says he has been kidnapped by aliens, who have put one of their own as PM instead. The main point in their favour is that a turban is an ideal hiding place for alien antennae.

But if Dr Singh is not in Delhi, where is he? If the alien theory is correct, he's probably lecturing on economics to a group of little green men many worlds away. Others suggest that, fed up of petty politics, Dr Singh has retired to the Himalayas and unsubstantiated reports of a hermit meditating in a cave near Haridwar dressed in a blue turban and Nehru jacket do appear from time to time.

An unreliable friend said he had recently sighted a gentleman in a blue turban on a Tahiti beach, stretched out on a hammock between two palm trees, sipping nimbu pani while reading the collected works of Adam Smith. I was initially inclined to believe him, since that is the life any intelligent person would aspire to, apart perhaps from the choice of drink or reading material. But then the friend said he had seen two gentlemen in identical blue turbans stretched out in adjoining hammocks, watching the locals dance the hula hula while sipping their drinks, each with a copy of Adam Smith's collected works. This naturally led me to conclude my friend was completely sozzled.

Since then, however, I have cogitated much on the matter and now believe the sighting could be of none other than Singh. That's because, in my humble opinion, it's very likely my friend really did see two men with identical blue turbans. One of them was the PM. The other was his pal Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint.

The views expressed by the author are personal.