Tuesday, May 5, 2009
“Rahul” ….Naam Tho Suna Hoga Na ?
“Rahul” – Hope or Change or Both?
An immensely tantalizing promise in a person to a nation in a hurry to find its own Obama. Unlock the magic of the name Gandhi again in a fast polarizing tri polar hot, crowded, flat and terror struck world! A step closer to the throne of probably the most powerful hot seat in the third world!
Rahul Gandhi finds himself in a unique situation. He has all the elements of the best magic formula: youth, good looks, a disarming dimpled smile, a scion & a most eligible bachelorhood, lead by a widowed Italian mother, son of a martyred father, grandson of a slain grand mother, lineage of the foremost leader of India struggle to Independence as a great grand father; more than supportive uber charismatic sister;
Good intentions and importantly a vision for India in the making inside his head plus a clear sight to step over petty issues focusing on the larger & longer term picture of India as a influencing power at world stage. He passionately urges the young of one of the youngest nations in the world to wake up to the call of changing the futurescape of a nation with abundance of promise of global good.
And most of all, the mythic Gandhi name. Unlocking its promise in India this general election 2009, though, is to walk a labyrinth, made up of daunting imponderables.
Rahul’s tryst with the Gandhi name — its burden and it’s a huge gift — has come at a time when it is more difficult to grapple with than it ever was for those of his family who went before.
The Congress has long lost its supremacy in India. In fact, it is at one of its lowest ebbs. His mother in 2004 had to sacrifice the top job which elevated her to a revered status quo with in the party as its iron fisted high command. Opposition raises a war cry that Manmohan Singh is keeping the seat warm for Rahul Gandhi.
Yet. National politics is a minefield, festered by myriad of regional parties & fractured mandates. Caste calculations, religious vote bank politics and Unpredictable, Uncomfortable coalitions. PM prospects..? A melee of suspecting and unsuspecting incumbents.
The gap between the rich and the poor has never been wider. Voters have never been more cynical (43 % Voter turnout in Mumbai 156 days after 26/11). As a nation we are sandwiched by troubled neighbors in precarious and pernicious position fighting internal emergencies. Taliban in Pakistan, Mass killing in Bangladesh, Insurgency in Nepal, LTTE Cleansing at the cost of innocent Tamils in SriLanka. A global recession bringing major economies to a grinding halt; in some cases negative growth.
The Gandhi name, in this scenario, maybe a powerful dynastic talisman, but it is not an automatic one. In many crucial ways, Rahul’s tryst with the Gandhi name is different from his ancestors. It’s not just the circumstances that are different. His engagement is also both more voluntary and complex.
Rahul’s decision to join politics unlike his famous sibling Priyanka is his own answer to his calling. It is an active one. As his aides opine –“He is not a man who takes decisions without thinking them out. He is happy and enthused about entering politics, he is not feeling pressured. He will take on the job with gusto”
Ever since he leap forged in to the cesspool of Indian politics, he has been learning to swing with the sharks and yet stay scathed but not cannibalized. In his sojourn thus far; He immersed himself in development work in Amethi, focusing on education, working with a network of NGOs.
The party whispered ominously about his lack of charisma; the media discussed it volubly: his body language is wrong, he doesn’t reach out to people, he doesn’t know how to connect, he has no ideas, he has no fire, and he has no vision. His maiden speech on education in the Lok Sabha was mocked as a high-school performance. Few took note of his question on sugarcane farmers in Parliament. His Kalavathi example – a reference to the poor often ridiculed on the floor of the house with loud jeers. The absence of his more obviously charismatic sister, Priyanka, was everywhere.
Rahul persevered. As he told a journalist in conversation, “The media wants things done in an instant. They want everything done yesterday, but it doesn’t work like that. It takes time.I would be foolish to say I am going to do things in a week. I will do politics my way and in my time. Nobody can force me to do anything.”
The idea of the journey is central to every heroic epic. Very few heroes are ever airdropped, ready-made, from heaven. But does Rahul Gandhi have the luxury of making a journey of learning and self discovery? Will he be allowed to feel his way, step by step, into squaring with his legacy, and finding the key to his own potential?
As a Gandhi scion, Rahul is the ace that no other party has: a young leader with the potential for a pan-Indian appeal.
Rahul seems to have taken that daunting plunge. He seems to have released himself from the paralyzing calculations and faux wisdoms of Delhi — a city of intrigue and counter intrigue, of backstabbing and slander, where nothing is what it seems — and started a search for finding the face of the “poorest and weakest man”.
This journey has been made before: by Mahatma Gandhi, by Nehru, and in different ways by Indira, and Sonia; but to his credit, Rahul does not assume a dynastic knowledge of the poor of this country. Dalits and tribals — along with Muslims and Brahmins — have been the traditional umbrella constituency of the Congress.
As a peg back two steps backwards, this time Congress were made to fight the ghost of the 1984 Sikh riots when a shoe got hurled at the Home Minister. One of the most powerful slogans of his grandmother Indira Gandhi was “Garibi Hatao”. Neglect, feudal assumptions of intimacy, the rise of identity politics — many things drove them away from the Congress. Rahul is trying to revitalize the relationship, re-lay foundation stones.
Is this “the foresight and astuteness of a long-term player”, as one veteran family loyalist puts it, or political suicide, circa 2009, with general elections around the corner and adversaries like Left who left the coalition ; NDA, Third Front , Fourth Front ; Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Paswan,Jayalalithaa,Nitish Kumar, Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu’s Mahakootami to confront?
What India witnessed today at the New Delhi Presser was all the ingredients of the promise showing incisive sparks. Rahul was deft at handling the questions fielded by the journalists. His answers guarded yet spontaneous.
His pitch raising above petty issue base politics homing on the “What’s in it for the Commoner”. Rightful acknowledgements of the good governance by his parties arch rival in AP ; Chandrababu Naidu and admitting his respect for him. Candid approval of the good work done by Mr.Nitish Kumar – A potential ally.
Admission of the issue around black money at Swiss Bank accounts as raised by his opposition leader Advani. Reiterating concurrence and ideological meeting point and the policies for the poor from the Left and assertively differentiating the reformist and growth based fulcrum of the UPA.
An unflinching support for Manmohan Singh and asserting the virtues of the Nuclear Deal with US and India gain there in. Owning up the plank of secular politics with reforms integrating the two India’s .et al all hit home a compelling pitch quite unseen thus far.
Right now he too, like his genial mother is refusing a ministerial berth and professing strong focus to grow a potent youth congress, a strong cadre and a functional democratic framework delivering his fathers dream of reaching more than a mere 10 paise of the rupee to the poor of India.
On the young brigade he already has starry and vote worthy company in Omar Abdulla, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Naveen Jindal, Jiten Prasada,Jyotiraditya Scindia, Priya Dutt for company. If ever the finicky urban voter sat on his fat bottom, Rahul’s sound bytes at today’s presser will surely kindle a refaith in politics on multiple counts. For starters here is some one they can identify with easily.
The Indian electorate is a famously unpredictable one, and it is true no one can accurately calibrate what effect Rahul’s point to point contact with the masses will have. The report card on his charm, body language and ease with crowds has shot up unanimously in the past month.
Only time and adversity will tell whether Rahul will answer to his genes and become a powerhouse political leader — with all that it takes: courage, creativity, cunning, decisiveness, the ability to build bridges. What he has going for him already is humility. A purity of intent, which itself is a rarity in Indian politics today.
He knows he has to hit the long, hard, dusty road. A Journey which will reach the first goal post this May end and ultimately flourish in good measure if things go as planed in year 2014 or earlier ( If a weak coalitions which in all likelihood will). He knows he has to go to the people.
The Congress might be in a hurry, but Rahul’s tours are just a beginning in his own journey. And in the search for the key that will unlock the magic of the Gandhi name and find India’s answer to Obama. Until at least some one else emerges from nowhere to take this prime pole position.
Above narrative put togather with inputs collated and edited from the web; images deserve their necessary credits as well.represented here are contents purporting to be non commercial and limited to private circulation.