Fortune’s Favourite

As the wag said, there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Not that Dr Farooq Abdullah has ever been averse to being talked about, but this little thing about Arvind Kejrival’s list must have been a little disconcerting, particularly when the coming seasons demand vehement protestations of secularism and development rather than dark hints of skeletons in the cupboard.

But there is no cowing down the feisty Dr. Abdullah. One can count on him to take the battle to his opponents’ territory, which he has done with characteristic flair in this case as well. Kashmir’s tallest leader has always given the impression of one who loves to be in the midst of a scrap, but that was mostly when Pakistan made for a favourite punching bag this side of the Radcliffe Line. Otherwise also, most of his daring forays into enemy turf have been marked by a quiet, unnoticed retracing of steps. And therein lies his genius. Regardless of disastrous upheavals in the fortunes of others, he manages to come up trumps.

This has something to do with the uncanny ability of some to read the political winds – a tel dekho, tel ki dhaar dekho kind of thing, or as many here would prefer, waav wuchit naav traavin – a talent politicians have in abundance, more so in the subcontinent where politics often are the interests of the sum total of one – the one and only one that matters, one’s own self. (Don’t parties, ideologies, performances in India also revolve round that one self, if not yet in the left, but certainly in the right and the centre.)

But what has all this got to with the Beloved Leader? Others can’t be blamed if they try and help jog the little grey cells of his party’s brain trust which has failed to give him an appropriate khitaab for so long. Evidently, it has not grown out of its ‘cub’ fixations, and found substitutes in the thesaurus not having the regal ring. It is only that Arvind Kejrival’s equivalent of Forbes 500 brings to mind another Abiding Leader down south whose closets ages ago would have turned Imelda Marcos green with envy. In case the connection has not yet been made, a hint or two will suffice.

The Abiding Leader (not of course the actual title the personality goes by) down south keeps closets and cupboards strictly off limits by a formidable ability to force New Delhi to reverse policy decisions with a judicious mix of parochial chauvinism and passable administration. Despite oblique reminders and repeated taunts around events of nearly precisely a year ago, Dr. Abdullah has not taken his cue. Evidently, he has other aces up his sleeve. And Kejrival’s list? The law, of course, will take its own course.