Millennium Post

Streak of ruthlessness

The piece of political theatre that Rahul Gandhi, the feudal lord of the Congress party, who is a sui generis heir apparent to the governmental seat of power of the prime minister of India, enacted is a sign of democratic values at its worst.

The possiblity of an ordinance designed by the Manmohan Singh government to provide relief to the criminally convicted members of Parliament and other legislatures to have been passed by the Union Cabinet without the concurrence the party is not just remote, but almost non-existent. Yet, the way Gandhi chose to denounce it in public without so much as a by-your-leave to the supposed primus inter-peres of the government is shocking at the low end of scale and while at its high end, it has been read as a signal to the 81-year-old gentleman to vacate the seat.

There are compelling reasons for Gandhi to pose for a public stance on that count. For, at the beginning of the poll season itself, the Congress party can see its fate sealed by the rupees five lakh crore-odd scams that its partymen and allies have essayed earlier, is now getting reflected in the lack of investments; lack of jobs and a lack of funds for the various welfare schemes that it has floated to hoodwink the people. So, Gandhi was setting up the fall guy for all that his party needs at the beginning of the race to the hustings. After he made his insensible point about the ‘nonsensical’ nature of the legislation had little to do with upholding legal and democratic values in politics of the country, and more to do with the nature of power politics, where, when people need to be disposed off, they are usually cut down at their knees. This is the cut-at-the-knees moment for Manmohan Singh, who was once the beloved of the middle-classes, the same class that is baying for his blood now, and for which Gandhi feels empowered to act in favour. Now, even Singh’s former flunkies and supplicants have joined the chorus to demand his resignation for all kinds of reasons, including, ironically, to save his own honour.

Singh could possibly read the signs on the wall when during his last intervention at the end of the monsoon session of Parliament, he had made a statement that was full of pathos. He had said, while within the country and Parliament, he is not shown any respect, outside in the various international fora like the G-20 he is hailed as a statesman. Who did once say that Singh’s best job would be to become the president of the World Bank with the blessings of his patron-in-chief, the USA?
So, as Singh ‘wows’ the world at the United Nations General Assembly, the Gandhi scion was cutting off the few crucial inches from what remains to be his stature. It is indeed ironic that there was a time when a desi intellectual would need to actually earn his spurs abroad to be counted. But much to his chagrin, Singh has witnessed this model reversed in his case. Is he at fault for his own misfortune? Of course, he is. Because he aspired for much, too much, that was beyond his ken.
We have enough reams of newsprint spent lately, detailing how he has become the butt of all that is wrong with the Congress party. Another telling of that will only be in aid of stating the obvious. But what does it tell us about Rahul Gandhi? For all those who took him to be a lightweight wastrel, he has shown a streak of ruthlessness that comes with a sense of a scavenging the dead. And this is an operation undertaken only when die is cast. So, if Manmohan Singh is a target of opportunity, does that make Gandhi a viable alternative – a national leader who does not get the seat as patrimony but who has earned it. This writer can prognosticate about what the future would hold when Rahul Gandhi would be on the hot seat. But that will be fatuous editorialising in the backdrop of the impending general polls when the people of this country will make known their opinion about the Congress Party. All that can be said at this point in time, is that the ‘writing is on the wall.’
So, is Congress a relic of the past that needs to end up with the kabadiwala. There aren’t many who have seen Gandhi in action for the past few years or so, who would disagree.

Gandhi has shown that he is not a suitable poll mascot in repeated elections in the Hindi heartland and even in the South; he has not been able to permeate any ‘big’ idea amongst the people of the country, half of whom are closer to his age; nor has he been seen dynamic enough to grab an adversity and turn it into an opportunity. So, a question can be asked what is he? The answer to that history will make, as Manmohan Singh has so rudely been made aware of.

The author is a senior journalist

Next Story
Share it