No Longer Mr. Clean

The slight injury that Rajiv Gandhi suffered when he was attacked by a Sri Lankan honor guardsman last week is not the only insult the Indian Prime Minister has endured lately. Just two years ago Gandhi, 42, was hailed as the most promising of leaders, an enlightened Prime Minister whose reputation for probity won him the nickname "Mr. Clean." Today, battered by corruption scandals, local-election defeats, the defection of ministers and worsening communal violence, Gandhi, 42, is widely regarded as pathetically inept. As the newsmagazine India Today put it, "Rajiv Gandhi is not just in crisis. He is the crisis."

Even...