THIS is an odd time to spring to the defence of Rahul Gandhi. But when the whole nation is going gaga over the dawn of the Age of Yogis under the brahmachari Narendra Modi, perhaps a piece in defence of the young challenger may not be amiss.
Rahul’s primary sin is that he was born in the Nehru-Gandhi family, the nearest equivalent to a Royal Family we have in India. Modi does not tire of boasting of his own superior credentials as the son of a chaiwala and poking fun at the shahzada (prince). Did Rahul have a choice about the family he would be born in? If Hindu beliefs are to guide us, rebirth is determined by one’s karmas in the past life. Obviously Rahul must have earned a lot of punya in order to deserve this kind of family. And Modi…?
Rahul is keenly aware of the name that he carries and the sacrifices that his family has made in the interests of the nation. Indira Gandhi died because she crushed the Khalistan movement. And Rajiv Gandhi was killed because he tried to support the Sri Lanka government in fighting the LTTE menace.
In terms of education, he can boast of the best of schools and universities. While this gives him a head start compared to any competitor, it also accounts for his relatively poorer oratorical skills in Hindi as compared to Modi who spent a lifetime lecturing audiences in Hindi and Gujarati while working as a Pracharak in the RSS.
His relative inexperience in handling administrative problems is due to a conscious decision taken by the family not to catapult him to a senior administrative position in the government till he had matured a little more in politics. He was also keen to bring about some fundamental changes in the organisational structure of the party.
He wanted to enlarge the membership base as also to bring in fresh blood in the leadership rather than follow the traditional method of inheriting your stature based on the stature already earned by the father. Although he has not been given any credit for these two campaigns, informed observers have felt some basic changes in the Grand Old Party that are likely to transform its future functioning.
The trouble with our media experts is that they move in a pack, lest a rival channel should beat them to an exclusive story. The result is that they decide at any point of time how they would treat a certain leader. And then everybody else follows suit.
Post-Godhra they decided to paint Modi in black colour as an arch Hindutva devil and Modi could not do anything right. Post-UP elections, they have discovered that both Hindus and Muslims have voted for BJP. Now Modi cannot do anything wrong.
So much so, Modi did the unthinkable: he appointed Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of UP. Everyone is mystified. They cannot fathom how the voters’ mind worked. Those parties which lost at the hustings despite all predictions, are clutching at unlikely straws like doctored electronic voting machines. Even the BJP’s own experts have to manufacture scenarios like Muslim women voting en bloc for the party due to its stand on the triple-talaq issue.
The simple fact is that in politics, nothing succeeds like success. There is a ready parallel in Justin Trudeau of Canada, who was treated like Rahul as someone who was too young, too green, as lacking in political strategy or finesse, and unlikely to win the elections ever. And this stripling of politics confounded his critics by winning an incredible victory in the 2015 elections.
RAHUL has been accused of all kinds of unlikely things. He took a catnap in Parliament. It had to be pointed out that Deve Gowda, the eternal dozer, made an excellent Prime Minister. He was accused of not allowing the Parliament to work for two of its sessions and this criticism was mouthed by Pranabda. He coolly forgot that this brand of filibustering was invented by the BJP. He has been criticised for seeking photo opportunities by rushing to spots in the hinterland to sympathise with farmers or victims of inter caste hatred or whatever. But if he did not go, he would be accused of being an armchair politician. A Hobson’s choice, really!
Currently, the entire media is sold out to the Modiview of history. Come 2019 and Modi will sweep the polls. He will rule till 2024, when he will pass the baton to Adityanath, who is being billed as the future PM. It is as if the yuga of yogis has started. Witness the proposal of Shiv Sena that the Sarsanghachalak of the RSS would be the ideal choice for President. Even the prophecies of Nostradamus are being recycled so as to make a larger than life image for NaMo.
They forget even recent history. Kejriwal won 67 of the 70 assembly seats in Delhi and suddenly the entire media included him in its panel of probables for PMship. In the recent elections, some admirers were prepared to anoint him as the CM of Punjab. The gathhabandhan of Bihar confounded many experts by making Modi bite the dust. One cannot really criticise Rahul and Akhilesh of trying out a gathhabandhan in UP recently. Perhaps the mistake was in the SP fighting its internal squabbles in public, not forming the alliance well in time, and not including Mayawati in the gathhbandhan.
But that is politics. You win some, you lose some. And you live and learn. Why not give Rahul the same rope that we extend to other pugilists in the ring?
MK Kaw is a former Secretary, Government of India. (The views expressed are those of the columnist.)