Can Rahul be the Krishna for Congress that Rajiv was?

Like his father Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul is being asked to take up the mantle by a cacophony of voices at an AICC meet, which shows political cronyism is as big a bugbear for Congress as it was so many years ago. But can he deliver?

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Ajay Singh | January 17, 2014




Just after Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash in Delhi, the AICC session was under way to take stock of the political situation. Having lost a son who played a crucial role in assisting her, Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister and AICC chief, looked visibly distraught and Rajiv Gandhi was still far from the political scene.

In that session, VP Singh, the then chief minister of UP, struck a poetic chord and veritably sung “mera Krishna mujhe de do (give us our Lord Krishna)” in the middle of his speech in order to make a passionate appeal to Indira Gandhi to induct Rajiv Gandhi into politics. This was music to Mrs Gandhi’s ears and she promptly succumbed to this poetic seduction.

Rajiv Gandhi was brought in and made general secretary of the Congress. But in politics of subsequent days, neither did VP Singh remain Meera nor Rajiv Gandhi the “Lord Krishna”. The realities of politics are too hard to be subsumed by an avalanche of sycophancy or flattery.

Perhaps this brief history bears significance as the ongoing AICC session appears to be a poor imitation of the past. Rahul Gandhi is sought after by delegates in much the same way as his father Rajiv Gandhi was seduced into politics by a cacophony of voices masqueraded as poetry. But there is no one as skillful as VP Singh who could conveniently don the role of a poet and ruthless politician at his convenience.

Only a glance at the AICC session on Friday (January 17) would prove it beyond doubt that the party has singularly failed to let go the culture of elitism that promoted political cronyism of the worst kind. This was evident in the manner an orchestrated cry went out to declare Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate, made at a time when AICC president Sonia Gandhi started making her speech.

Sonia Gandhi’s speech was quite matured, dignified and full of substance. Though combative for her political rivals, her political demeanour was conciliatory and meant to send out a signal that the Congress as an organisation was found wanting in capturing the people’s imagination. But the significance of her message seemed to have been lost in a clamour of courtiers eager to be seen as benefactors for Rahul Gandhi.

On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi as a leader appears a little hesitant in taking up direct responsibility. Those who followed his utterances in the past are not surprised by his conduct, as he has said at many places that hankering after posts is not his priority. In many of his interactions with groups of individuals, he seems to have cut out for himself the larger task of reorienting the party and taking it to grassroots-level democracy.

As usual, such platitudes for average Congress workers will only evoke yawns, unless, of course, interrupted by a poetic intervention of “mera Krishna mujhe de do”.

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