Capt M K Tayal
Rahul Gandhi, the spelling evokes a bag full of mixed thoughts and amusement, depending on which side of the fence you view the man from the ‘prime minister family’. He is intriguing, more so now that he claims that he is not who is. Walking long distance; perhaps, can do wonders.
And wonder, in deed it is. Bharat Jodo Yatra by Congress heir, Rahul Gandhi, is no small feat. For the record, it is the longest political march by any wannabee prime minister. You have to give it to Rahul Gandhi just for the sheer effort.
The problem is to identify to give credit to whom and for what. “Rahul Gandhi is in your head; I have killed him. He is not there. He is not in my mind. He is gone. The person you are seeing, he is not Rahul Gandhi, you can see him… Rahul Gandhi is in your head, not in my head. Rahul Gandhi is in the mind of BJP, not in my head…” This is what he said after walking nearly 3,000 kilometres with breaks and political events splintered along the way.
It makes perfect sense for a seer to evoke philosophical reflections but for someone who dreams of changing the landscape and giving ‘happiness to the entire people of the nation’ it doesn’t fit the picture.
Has the long walk tired the young, angry-old man or is it a structural-design flaw?
For a serious politician, we ought not to restrict the idea of Rahul Gandhi to sporting a beard and a T-shirt and eventually a ‘pheron’. The wise-man look is understandably desirable but the choice of wearing weather-inappropriate clothing, may not do him good. He just barely avoided catching pneumonia, for god sake and the sake of his followers.
Rahul Gandhi says he got inspired by two poor girls who couldn’t afford warm clothing. To express solidarity with the girls, he decided to give up warm clothes. Wouldn’t it have been better to gift the girls with two sweaters? “You are scared of cold, I am not,” Rahul told a scribe who questioned his choice of dressing in the winter month. In the Valley, finally he gave that up also and covered with a pheron.
Not that he has not been flashing Burberry jacket in the Parliament and other places. But again give it Rahul for the T-shirt too. The bravado did last till the last? However, given that Rahul Gandhi is not Rahul Gandhi and thus evolving, anything could have been expected.
The Congress, on its part, left leaving no stone unturned for the success of the yatra. Ensuring constant media coverage, the party certainly created a buzz.
Though the BJP may have termed it a failure but for the wrong reasons again. Christened Bharat Jodo Yatra, it couldn’t have been called Congress Jodo Yatra. The central underlining idea of the yatra was to rejuvenate the Seva Dal cadre, keep Rahul Gandhi busy and physically fit, not necessarily in that order. It did all that without any phenomenal image makeover.
Yatra nevertheless did not lack in length but perhaps in depth and substance for the larger part. By his constant offensive against the BJP and its parent ideological organisation, the RSS, Rahul Gandhi, whoever is the new avatar, did provide enough material for the Congress Sandesh and gave ammo and hope to the left-centrists. Ironically, crowds are not an accurate barometer of support it purports to have gathered.
It has, by and large, been ineffective in getting the desired political traction. Not willing to cede any space, leaders in the North just left in the cold. Other party leaders did not particularly queue up to get a peekaboo of the prince in shining armour.
But given Rahul as it is today, is good for the BJP. As a standalone foe, he is unable to singlehandedly challenge the might of Narendra Modi and the highly energised Sangh cadre.
Had the Yatra managers made it a walk from North to South rather than vice-versa, it could have yielded in different results for uniting the party.
The yatra is the right effort but in the wrong direction. But that is being addressed in the part two, as suggested by fellow leaders in Srinagar.
Perhaps, a part two from Kutch to Tripura, would be desirable to fill in the blanks. A structurally stronger and more mature Rahul is desired for a vibrant democracy.