Millennium Post

Rahul works his magic, and how

What is so unique about Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice president? Why is it that politicians with long innings of public life find him irresistible and are always ready to show their respect for him? Could it be because he too decided to accept the poison of power like Nilakantha, who drank the poison that came out while gods and asuras were churning the ocean in search of amrita?

More about poison later but why are the Congress politicians so enamored by the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. There is Kamal Nath, the longest serving member in Lok Sabha along with many others to give him company like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Digvijay Singh, Shashi Tharoor to name a few. Then there are mortals like me who are obsessed with the 42-year old leader, who will give up their right of free choice to just appoint Rahul the nation’s next prime minister.  Forget the family lineage, even Rajiv Gandhi had it. But he never had the benefit of so much public support before an air crash brought him to active politics.

Rajiv was an after thought unlike Rahul, his son. Indira Gandhi, who was carefully groomed to hold the mantle by her father Jawaharlal Nehru, was busy grooming her younger son Sanjay who crashed to ground while flying high. Indira had received all necessary attentions from Nehru who himself had the great Mahatma as his political mentor. Also Indira benefitted from the support of a syndicate led by the then Congress president K Kamaraj who was scared of a dogmatic and rigid Morarji Desai. Media was pliant in those days but less so when Indira was forced to bring in Rajiv to, by then, a family heirloom. But the unfortunate death at the hands of her guards was so overwhelming that Rajiv did have the country on a platter. His son Rahul cannot be that lucky. He had to therefore build his image painstakingly.

Rahul is son of a former prime minister who had lost an election and died before he could come back to power. Rahul’s mother could not be the prime minister for some technical reason passed on as a sacrifice. Father Rajiv’s assassination in 1991 is a forgotten chapter consigned to history. Rahul cannot revive the sentiment with such a distant incident. Still he has created an unchallenged position for himself both within his party and outside in media. What could be the magic behind this?

Could it be Rahul’s oratory? Many of us remember his Kalawati speech in Lok Sabha, when Indo-US civilian nuclear deal was being debated. Forget the mischief-makers who wanted to question how
fared post-deal. That indeed was a great speech. So is his poison speech in Jaipur delivered recently. Not only Rahul’s mother, many of our mothers also wept overwhelmed by our school result cards. Though not so articulate as Rahul’s mother,  they also felt that the poison of rat race made worse by the bias of the teachers who failed to recognise their son’s potential. Like in life there must be poison in power. We loved the speech more so since we face the same predicament of life with our children.

We also liked Rahul’s effort to join the struggle of ordinary people in their daily fight for certain basic rights. Take the peasants of BhattaParsul, the tribals of Odissa’s Kalahandi or the poor in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul’s effort to apply the royal balm has been well documented by the fiercely independent Indian media. None of us could afford to miss it. Not that we are keen to wink at the struggle Rahul makes for the sake of us, the not so privileged sections of the society. If media had not highlighted the same we would have known the efforts in any case.

More than the struggles which Rahul joined and elevated to the iconic level like the great Mahatma had done with sea and salt is his compassion. Unaccustomed to the life of ordinary individuals, Rahul had meals at the huts of the poor and even slept in their charpoys. Barring Mahatma, did any of our leaders care to do so? No point listening to the sarcasm of the foul minds – they called it a PR effort! Even for Mahatma did we not hear Sarojini Naidu murmuring on the cost the exchequer had to bear for keeping him in poverty? Poverty certainly has a cost; more so for those who do not have any clue of it.  We have no time for the cynics who might even call Rahul’s train travels as publicity stunts! Given the condition of the roads, thanks to India’s NHAI, what option does Rahul have to travel? If he starts flying everywhere the same cynics will say he stays aloft away from the ground!  We all love Rahul Gandhi in his effort to know the real India. We want a real prime minister not tone who stares blankly, remains silent and acts when nobody hopes he will.

We are happy that he has consented to embrace the risk of poison of power. Even if Rahul had to accept it due to an accident in life – he is born in a family, which is supposed to rule India, he had the option of staying away but he did not. The billion strong nation beckons him to take over the family mantle.

The author is a communication professional
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