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Brimming over... as usual

Rajinder Puri in New Delhi. Photo: Anu Pushkarna.

THE SEETHING sarcasm in his statements is uncomfortably close to slander; the crisp criticism on political class in his columns cultivates trust in his trade, Rajinder Puri, who has lived two volatile vocations: journalism and politics on his own terms, is ready with his fifth book "Bull's Eye", a Hope India publication of his columns in Outlook magazine.

And the moment you touch his desired topic, the aged bachelor ups the ante at the double and dissects past and forecasts future with surgical precision and a clairvoyant's eye respectively. Talking about his dalliance with the Janata regime in 1977, when he was cosy with present rulers whom he now term as "men without honour" Puri reflects, "As a journalist, I had an ideological bent and one was against the Indira Gandhi's emergency measures. So when Emergency was imposed, from one of the highest paid journalists, I was rendered jobless. During this period, I started a weekly, Stir where Morarji Desai used to contribute and our apathy for Indira's policy was the common bond. Later, I was asked to join as a general secretary." But soon the journalist in him realised that his ideological mates are a bunch of regional chieftains who wanted to act as balance of power at the Centre.

"The Janata government was a success but the party was a failure. Charan Singh could not digest the importance given to Jagjivan Ram because Ram was the one who moved the Emergency resolution and Singh's BKD had provided the major chunk of seats to the party. I proposed to make it a federal party with a common symbol for the Parliament and keeping the identities intact at the State level." Instead, Puri was soon disposed off for his straight talk and after a brief affair with Lok Dal followed by a failed attempt to run his own party, he returned to the pen. "Leaders who came to fore in the name of social justice are perpetuating the feudal tendencies of the worst order. The Jain Hawala case was turned from a terrorism case to a criminal one because it would have meant putting Syed Salahuddin at par with the politicians siphoning funds for the party through Hawala channels," says Puri, a petitioner in the case. "Today's politics is mafia politics, where big economic houses are running the show with their front men in political parties. These are not politicians, just middlemen with an agenda," he adds.

As for the media, Puri says that it's acting as a pimp for the prostitute. "What should be the part of Tid bits are being made the lead stories. Businessmen rather than editors are running the show. It is an attempt to take the people away from reality." However, Puri sees things changing. "One, we still have the freedom of expression and association. I can afford to make seditious statements. Then there is a global interest, because for the investments to succeed, you need effective governance. And I see a cultural revolution, wiping off the present political class, happening, where the young will participate in the political process without giving up on their careers." Hope Bull's Eye meets the target.


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