By Sushil Kutty
Defending Rahul Gandhi’s ability to become Prime Minister of India, just like his great-grandfather, his grandmother and his father, is getting difficult and difficulter as the Bharat Jodo Yatra gets closer and closer to Srinagar’s famed Lal Chowk, the yatra’s final destination. The Hollywood movie of the same name was built on the theme that no matter what one does, and doesn’t matter how much one tries to avoid, the inevitable is inescapable!
Rahul Gandhi is not the original politician, he does not have qualities usually associated with a ‘Neta’. But being a Nehru-Gandhi comes with the politician tag. And one of the inevitabilities of being a Nehru-Gandhi is the entitlement to become Prime Minister of India. Period. Even a reluctant Gandhi, like Rajiv Gandhi, never thought it would fall in his lap. Que Sera Sera/Whatever will be, will be.
Now Rahul Gandhi has been in line to become the next Gandhi Prime Minister for close to two decades and it’s like he’s Prince Charles, hopelessly waiting for the inevitable. Charles is now the monarch, at last. Rahul Gandhi hasn’t become Prime Minister, as yet. Sonia Gandhi could have become, but dared not. She could have picked Rahul, but chose an economist instead.
Rahul Gandhi is neither economist, nor normal politician. And now, for him, it is like ‘l asked my mother/What will I be/Will I be Prime Minister?’, and the answer is ‘Whatever will be, will be/The future’s not ours to see/Que Sera Sera’.
The truth is, it is no longer true that a Gandhi is entitled. If anything, the Gandhis are a tragic family. And Rahul Gandhi was the victim of two back-to-back tragedies that burned the Gandhi family. The ten years of the Congress-led UPA without a Gandhi as Prime Minister told the story of Rahul Gandhi.
The 2004-2009 denial of a Gandhi Prime Minister was supposed to be a one-off. But repeating it for 2009-2014 was a mistake. That was when/where Sonia Gandhi slipped. She shouldn’t have gone with the ‘Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be’. It was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to repeat Dr. Manmohan Singh all over again that bucked the longest Congress trend of a ‘Gandhi for PM always’.
And if the Congress was thinking that she was only delaying the inevitable, the Congress was wrong. Now, with 2024 approaching, nothing can be done except hum ‘Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be’. The once inescapable norm that a Gandhi will inevitably become Prime Minister isn’t applicable anymore.
So the Congress party’s political chances have been hurt. The once-entitled Gandhi has to undertake a gruelling 3700 km cross-country foot-march to stake claim to the post of Prime Minister of India which was once his to take for the asking. A Gandhi cheated out of his entitlement is perhaps the biggest tragedy in the history of the Congress.
What adds to the tragedy is that Rahul has to work doubly-triply hard to dispel the notion that whatever will be, will be. And he has to fashion himself in the mould of another whose mould he insists should be broken and given a permanent burial. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the ‘56” chest’, Rahul Gandhi is the man who winter doesn’t scare!
Rahul Gandhi’s t-shirt is at once macho, and a symbol of the ‘vulnerable’. With three little girls in flimsy clothes shivering in the wintry cold, how could Rahul Gandhi go about swathed in a sweater? Impossible. Rahul Gandhi feels the plight of the three little girls.
And if Modi visits temples, Rahul will be the ‘tapasvi’. If Modi sports the beard of a ‘Rishi’, Rahul Gandhi lets his stubble grow like Marx and Lal Singh Chadha. As the Bharat Jodo Yatra gets closer and closer to final destination Lal Chowk, people are reading deeper and deeper into Rahul’s utterances, and his image makeover.
Has Rahul Gandhi morphed into somebody who can challenge Modi in 2024, and win? The results of the assembly elections in nine states will give us an indication if the BJY helped or not. The biggest criticism that dogs BJY is that at the end of a gruelling 3700 km march, the man leading it is still not coherent. All that can be said in defence of ‘Rahul for PM’ is “The future is not ours to see/what will be, will be”. (IPA Service)