Seeing through theatrics
Rahul Gandhi is a reluctant leader.
Nehru's colleague in the Cabinet, Independent India's first Communications Minister, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, once observed to veteran journalist Durga Das, that 'Jawaharlal has performed the last rites not only of Gandhi but of Gandhism as well...' in a similar vein, one can confidently say that Nehru's great grandson and present vice president of Congress, Rahul Gandhi, is surely and certainly performing the last rites of the Congress and of whatever is left of or understood as Congressism.
The last three years in opposition has taken its toll on the party and on most of its leaders except a few who have wisely chosen to remain away from unnecessary controversies, from the false limelight and to dedicate their time and energies to more constructive cerebral or social work. But most of the other Congress leaders, the vast majority of them from the top to the lower echelons continue to indulge in theatrics and subterfuge under the lead of their vice president.
Calling the Prime Minister weak when he is on foreign soil, believing a false statement issued by that terrorist organisation the LeT that it had nothing to do with the Amarnath Yatri killings and instead deplorably implying that the attack was somehow the handiwork of the Central government, by- passing all healthy precedence and protocol and hobnobbing with the Chinese envoy during a period of some pressure in our relationship and not speaking to the Foreign Secretary, the National Security Advisor and making statements – like in the past – which display an extremely callous, irresponsible and frustrated state of being has been the latest from the stable or table of Rahul Gandhi.
So confused is the Congress under his leadership, in fact the confusion and false bravado is clear in the utterances of its leaders, that they first deny that Rahul met the Chinese envoy and then continue to throughout the day saying he met the envoy and so what and why were Indian ministers in China in that case and why did Prime Minister meet President Xi on the sidelines of the G20. A serious political party can never act in the manner the Congress is doing today, a circus troop, or a roving drama company, however, have the legitimate liberty to act in that manner.
What was so secretive about the meeting that the Congress denied it in the first place, and then in a childish attempt to cover up began asking counter questions which no serious observer or party ought to even answering. It has been rightly asked of the Congress and its vice president to make public the details of the meeting. Why this secrecy and why this obfuscation, is, of course, difficult to understand, suffices it to say that the Congress under Rahul Gandhi has almost always indulged in such acts and has never clearly defined on whose side does it stand and do they at all have India's national interest in mind.
The Kashmir issue is a legacy of the bungling of successive generations of Congress leaders and yet Rahul Gandhi and his fading cohorts such as Mani Shankar Aiyar, who keep dinning with separatists, want you to believe that it is Narendra Modi's creation. So blinded is Rahul and his political minions in their hatred for Narendra Modi that they believe in speaking to separatists, they deliberately lap up false statements issued by terrorists but refuse to speak to or engage with Prime Minister Modi and his government.
His blind hatred and rage against Prime Minister Modi, whom he and his family have always held in disdain, primarily because he has risen from the ranks and owed no allegiance to and was not the product of dynastism, is only making him more irrational and incoherent – both mentally and in expression.
The last theatrics was when Rahul Gandhi suddenly dashed off to Madhya Pradesh, beat up policemen on duty and then departed as suddenly as he had landed, for Italy to spend time with his extended family, in a cooler and more sanitised atmosphere while his political minions keep the pot boiling back home.
Rahul Gandhi has in fact repeatedly failed on all fronts; he has neither the bandwidth nor the inclination to evolve a cohesive political strategy for the party's survival. None within the party and its larger ecosystem – especially those who have thrived and made a pile under the Gandhi family's patronage – dare say what they firmly believe in, that the boy is not meant for the rough and tumble of Indian politics, that he is not only a reluctant but also an incompetent politician whose actions, theories, and articulations are passé and essentially echo an age and a worldview that is from the past.
The poison that is politics – by the admission of his mother Mrs. Gandhi (junior) – has begun taking its toll, not used to taking it in small doses, unsure of its various side-effects, unable to handle the metabolic changes that it induces in character and in personality, incapable of directing and regulating its flow into the system, the poison that is politics is taking its toll on Rahul and the obedient courtiers have no gumption to tell the Congress president to make a mid-life career course correction for her son so that the Congress can survive and remain relevant.
Meanwhile, the ordinary people of India are seeing through the theatrics, they cannot be duped into believing that what the Congress practices under Rahul Gandhi is genuine politics, they know it for what it is – false actions based on falsehood.
(The author is Director of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal.)