Rahul Gandhi has at long last granted the boon that members of the Congress Party, from top echelons downwards, had so long been devoutly pining for: He has said that he will play “a more proactive role in the party and the government”, and added, lest there be any ambiguity still, “The decision has been taken, the timing is up to my two bosses — the Congress President and the Prime Minister”.
The Congress President is, of course, his own mother, and the Prime Minister, of course, in popular perception, has no mind other than hers! And she said, just a day before Mr Rahul’s proclamation, that it was up to her son to decide on taking up a bigger role. So, both sides of the equation are neatly and nicely filled in and all is set for ushering in the Rahul era.
Such statements are not allowed to hang in the air for long; they are acted upon without delay, since, otherwise, the dramatic effect will evaporate.
As regards the exact place of the son-rise, the words — “All options are open” — used by Rahul give the game away. He already occupies, designation-wise, role-wise, relationship-wise — a dominant position in the Party, and so, that option has already been explored and exhausted.
The only other option is the ceremonial, red carpet welcome into the Government. Will it be as Prime Minister? Even a nation, inured to the most scandalous outrages, will not be able to stomach any abrupt displacement of Dr Manmohan Singh to accommodate a greenhorn like Mr Rahul in his place.
This is even on the assumption that, for the sake of keeping appearances, Dr Singh graciously makes way by seeming to resign on his own.
One may have a hundred criticisms to make of Dr Singh, but it has to be acknowledged in fairness that all throughout the eight years he has been in office, he has conducted himself with nobility and dignity, and it will be crossing all limits of decency to push him out in the cold just like that, with less than two years left for the general election.
Such a thing can happen only if all sense of decency had been crushed out of existence in the naked parade of flagrant sycophancy, monstrous corruption and cut-throat politics to which the nation has been a helpless witness these past few decades. In that (some would say likely) event, anything is possible.
Let us assume, though, that even the servile puppetry of the Congress Party will not go so far. In which case, the best means of enabling Mr Rahul to test out the waters is to induct him as a full-fledged Cabinet Minister; nothing else will be considered paying adequate obeisance to a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty with the prescriptive right to wear the Prime Minister’s mantle.
Whatever the script, I would earnestly urge Mr Rahul to have nothing to do with it. I don’t think he has the stuff in him to put the fear of God into the political mafias that have wildly proliferated and are smothering the institutions of governance.
Whether as the Prime Minister or the Cabinet Minister, he would in no time be swallowed up by the system.
As we have seen in the case of younger members elected to State legislatures and Parliament, the idealism and dynamism of youth has provided no antidote against their succumbing to the poisonous atmosphere of loot and plunder on an atrocious scale.
Indeed, they have come to excel long time political veterans in mouthing the same old shameless alibis to justify their collusion.
As for Mr Rahul, he has been a patent failure in cleansing the state of affairs in his own native Uttar Pradesh, as evidenced by the Congress coming to grief in the dynasty’s own pocket boroughs.
The depths to which UP has sunk in respect of violence, goondaism and lawlessness boggles imagination. How the economically- and culturally-forward States should save themselves from the mortal danger of the contagion spreading to them has become a question of grave importance.
Mr Rahul should rather prove his mettle within the limited crucible of his own State before he aspires for a proactive role in the whole of India.