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