Rahul does a Rajini

By T S Sudhir

At one time, “Hume dekhna hai” and “Hum dekhenge”‘ had become oft-heard catch-phrases of late Rajiv Gandhi’s political speech-lore.

Twenty years after his vision for 21st century India was tragically snuffed out by Tiger Prabhakaran’s suicide bombers, his son Rahul and his SPG’s SUVs are leaving their carbon footprint in the Uttar Pradesh countryside. The mission officially is “Hume dekhna hai kisano ki samasya”. What he must have witnessed firsthand is the moribund state of the Congress in UP, hardly battle-ready to take on Mayawati’s elephant army.

Satwant Singh and Beant Singh put on fast forward Rajiv’s ascension to the throne. Emergency branded Sanjay Gandhi forever as the enfant terrible. Priyanka reminded everyone of Indira Gandhi but the family decided Rahul it will be. In the seven years that Rahul has been MP from Amethi, the family pocketborough, such has been the state of India’s oldest political party that more people have asked not why but when.

If you wish to fawn over him, like most of Lutyens Delhi media does, you could compare him with Emperor Asoka who travelled around in his kingdom incognito, to know the real problems of his subjects. You could even indulgently point out that he is on the path shown by his great grandfather’s Discovery of India. You could brand him India’s foremost youth icon, reluctant prince, tribal soldier, student of Indian politics and what have you.

But is this image-building exercise as innocent and spontaneous as it is made to seem. Far from it. Brand managers have probably planned it to the last detail, to make this political reality show record the highest TRPs. So the prince-in-waiting looks all at once a sincere, man-of-the-masses, impromptu, enigmatic, almost as though he just does not want to be in the limelight. And the media it would seem has fallen for the act – hook, line and sinker.

It is perhaps a bit like the Presidential do in the US. Prez Obama bowls us over with his spontaneity, wit and sense of humour everytime he is seen interacting closely with fellow Americans. The most powerful man in the world safe and secure even while establishing body contact with all and sundry. Contrast this with our Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi whose security creates a visible barrier, making them look like robots being shepharded from one meeting to another.

Rahul walking some 100km in rural UP is an attempt to do an Obama. And despite the safari-clad SPG swarming around him, the walk is tailormade for 24×7 TV news channels. Here is a man who is neither government (atleast officially) nor the opposition. He is not even your Anna’s civil society. I see him attempting to be the Rajinikanth of Indian politics who through this padyatra is saying : “En vazhi, tani vazhi.” (I follow a unique path, the road less travelled)

Hitting an inside-out Dhoni-like helicopter shot gives Rahul the liberty to position himself as distinct from the set-up that sits in North and South Block. The Congress realises its stock has taken a dip and therefore Rahul’s padyatra is Plan B in action. The attempt is to capture the Opposition space that civil society has usurped from an inept BJP. Except that RG’s shoot-and-scoot politics may not work for the Congress, facing severe anti-incumbency. Especially when the country does not know his mind on most issues, save those he deigns to speak on.

Not that Rahul has a choice but to walk the talk. A Bihar-like 4/243 in UP would be the epitaph of his political career. And therefore with his Nike `Just do it’, Rahul would hope Congress does not get the boot. UP at his feet could be the beginning of a dream run. That could make mom Sonia believe `Yes we can’ in 2014. Except that the Congress karyakarta is an endangered species in these parts.

Padyatras have worked in the past. Most famously in Andhra Pradesh where in the summer of 2003, late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy walked 1500 km from Ranga Reddy district to Srikakulam, that saw the people of the state logging out Chandrababu Naidu from power a year later. Ironically, when YSR’s son Jagan wanted to do a yatra, he was forbidden from doing that, an issue that finally saw him parting ways with Sonia Gandhi. Don’t blame Jagan if he wonders “Main karoon tho saala character dheela hai.”

During the Kerala election campaign, V S Achuthanandan derided Rahul as an Amul baby. In keeping with Amul’s tagline, the baby is now getting a taste of India.

(Pic courtesy : www.newsreporter.in)




About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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3 Responses to Rahul does a Rajini

  1. ijswamy says:

    Rahul impresses Sonia, other parliamentarians, his South American girl friend and NDTV .After 2014 Indians get enough brain washed to accept him as PM .

  2. chinmay says:

    Rahul gandhi is trying his best to revive the moribund congress in Uttar Pradesh.But the strategy that he is following is unlikely to yeild maximum dividende.He has paid over hundred visits to uttar pradesh till now from 2004.Majority of these have been to pockestboroughs of amethi,rae bareli and sultanpur.Now bhatta parsaul has joined the list.Do only these four places constitues UP.waht about kanpur,benaras,lucknow,moradabad etc.BSP,SP have already released their 2012 list of candidates.Where is congress.Yes there is simmering anger against BSP among all sections except dalits and muslims are leaving samajwadi party in droves.Congress scattered the 2009 advantage when in virtual absence of ground political machinery could win 21 seats due to muslim and upper caste support.Congress could still gain heavily(70-90) seats in 2012 and could be forced to form an alliance with mulayam.But dont completely write off congress.who could have though congress getting 206 seats in 2009

  3. ijswamy says:

    Congress is like a “brain dead ” person in I C U .Kidneys failed(Bengal et Assam), Liver(UP) failed , Bone marrow failed (Maharastra), Limbs (Karnataka Tamilnadu and Telangana)paralysed .Rahul is a bad (very bad) doctor.

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