So who will run away with the cheese?



The current political discourse in the country today when everyone seems to believe this year’s general election is only between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, brings me a sense of déjà vu. I wondered what it was that this battle line reminded me of, until I realised it was rather like one of the tales from of childhood – about the two cats fighting bitterly with each other over the piece of cake and the monkey running away with that cheese or banana or whatever.

I certainly don’t mean to label Rahul Gandhi a monkey nor do I mean to reduce Narendra Modi to just a hissing, spitting cat from the roaring lion he presumes imself to be or to even insult Arvind Kejriwal with that appellation but somehow 2014 is beginning to remind me of 2004 when the BJP, after winning the three state elections of November 2003 had written off the Congress completely. We know what happened after that and I have a sneaking suspicion the Congress might yet similarly surprise us with the results even if it does not romp home to a clear victor

For a long time I have held my opinion of Rahul Gandhi in reserve, though friends in the AICC have often told me that on a one to one basis he is not the `Pappu’ that jis opposition makes him out to be. This afternoon, I thought I saw what they meant because he did not seem like a man leading a party that was expecting to lose the elections three months from now. The great grandson of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the grandson of Indira Gandhi cannot be either a dumbo or unversed in the political machinations of his grandmother’s days but what I saw in him today was clearly the son of Rajiv Gandhi – serious in intent, honest in purpose even if the dream was utopian and really not so easily achievable.

And, frankly, I would rather have that sincerity of purpose than the dishonesty of purpose propagated by one or the other political party and the anarchy by a third. Of I were an aspiring politician today, I would have been enthused by Rahul Gandhi’s promise to have at least fifty per cent of every political forum in the country including the offices of chief ministers peopled by women. If I were as poor and hungry as most people in this country are and as the rich in their ivory towers can have no concept of, I would be looking to all the empowering schemes with anxious, eager eyes and hope in my heart.

I am now beginning to believe that what Rahul Gandhi told a bunch of editors in Maharashtra some months ago may not really be untrue – that his party is not so badly off as it seems. And, perhaps, it suits the Congress to allow the myth of their helplessness to prevail.

As for the great fuss being mad over the dynastic polit6ics of the Congress, I have my own take on how the dynasty benefits the Congress mre than it destroys it. Which political party does not have a dynasty today – and in every one of those parties, including the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the inheritors have been the glue that has kept the workers together – the Sena would have scattered after Thackeray’s death had it not been for Uddhav and Raj Thackeray jostling for its control. Which is more than can be said of political parties without such glue – like the BJP for example, whose internal dissensions are more than they can handle and who actually have at the current moment rather dictatorial people at the helm. And that is true of the AAP experience as well – such parties crack up at the slightest pressure as AAP seems to be doing. If the BJP stays togther it is only because it has the RSS as the glue that holds it together. But then I agree with noted historian Ramchandra Guha that it would be much desirable to have a BJP without the RSS for the latter is just a regional outfit with limited influence which is trying very hard by proxy to control the destiny of the country though the BJP. Perhaps as the Nehru-Gandhis are through the Congress? But then both parties would collapse in a day without either factor.

Narendra Modi’s supporters will certainly not agree but I do not think Rahul Gandhi is quite the Pappu of their making as Modi is the Feku of the Congress imagination. And I am willing to stretch my neck out today and take an inspired guess: Rahul Gandhi may ultimately not become the Prime Minister of this country either but the Congress might really not do too badly under his stewardship. Lets see.

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