It has been a while since Rahul Gandhi started dabbling in politics. I say dabbling because we have never got the impression that at the very young age of 43 or thereabouts, Rahul is single-minded about his political career. He has never struck us as being a thinker. All we have seen him do is sleepwalking through the swamp of Congress politics and occasionally pull inane stunts like travelling in a Mumbai suburban train. He has allegedly revamped the youth wing of the party, although we are able to see no real difference. Rahul has been taking things real easy. Having been born with several silver spoons sticking out of his dynastic mouth, he knows he can take politics for granted. It also helps that the Congress party produces particularly spineless leaders who are content to hero worship the Crown Prince unabashedly. They all want him to be the Prime Minister. Even the Prime Minister wants Rahul to be Prime Minister.
In the many years he has been wearing the Congressman’s garb, Rahul could have made a real difference to the party. He doesn’t have to become the Prime Minister to be a catalyst for change. Events of the last three years and the spontaneous mobilisation of opinions on corruption and on a slew of other pandemic political diseases that afflict us, have shown an aching yearning for change, a yearning the UPA has systematically and deliberately trampled upon with its brazen and increasingly cynical responses. Young Rahul has all along been a mute spectator. But last week he seemed to have a change of heart and stepped out and spoke his mind. We should welcome it. What a difference it has made, although in the process it has shown us what a sad mockery of a government the UPA has become. All it took was less than five minutes of his time. Rahul barged into Ajay Maken’s press conference where he was giving the “party line” on the ordinance which Manmohan Singh had sent to the President for endorsement, an ordinance that would perpetuate criminals in politics and said what he thought of it. He was against such a “compromise”. Rahul said he personally felt “what our government has done as far as this ordinance is concerned is wrong”. He called the ordinance “complete nonsense”. He repeated himself in case anybody misunderstood him the first time.
The emphasis was on the government, the government his party was running. The real story of Rahul’s impromptu outburst of course is not about to come out, although for a rubber stamp the Prime Minister slyly riposted that the matter had been “discussed before the highest body, the core group of the Congress party” and that the Cabinet discussed the matter twice, not once. The core group was of course a direct reference to Rahul’s mother, Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. The implication: what was she doing when the matter was discussed? Was she having another off day? Or had she been for compromise as well?
It is a pity that Manmohan Singh has come off worse for the wear in all of this. True, he has been a pathetic bystander in scam after scam, and was happily lending his name in perpetrating criminals in politics which is certainly odd for someone whose party wants to be known as being the epitome of cleanliness, but to make him a scapegoat here is too convenient.