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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Give Rahul baba a break

Sunday Times of India, June 30, 2013
By Swapan Dasgupta

A couple of years ago, I asked a very senior official a question that many people once asked: why doesn't Rahul Gandhi gain some real political experience by joining the Manmohan Singh government as a minister? A possible reason, he suggested, was that the Gandhis are not accustomed to working under anyone. But a more likely reason, he informed me, was that ministers come under the purview of the Right to Information Act.
Translated into plain English this meant that the travels of the heir apparent would be subject to possible scrutiny by the busybodies who have acquired control of Act. At present, Rahul is merely a backbench MP, albeit one who is protected by the SPG. This implies that all his movements are closely monitored and recorded. In theory, someone could move an RTI application for making these details public. However, it takes very little effort for the government to fob off inconvenient questions by citing security concerns.
After all, if the land transactions of Robert Vadra is presented as classified information, what chance that the aam aadmi will ever get to know the enthralling details of the air miles collected by the man who is apparently born to rule?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it is a national priority to unearth details of every short break or long vacation that Rahul baba has taken. As long as he has travelled on his own money and not used the Government of India's resources, what he does with his own time is entirely his business. For example, it is now quite apparent that Rahul doesn't like spending his birthdays in India. The reason for this annual flight from the fatherland to the extended motherland is a subject of unending speculation and each of India's professional Gandhi-watchers have their own version of the truth, some seemingly credible, others quite whacko.
Ironically, all this feverish speculation is actually fuelled by the Congress Party. In its anxiety to celebrate Rahul's birthday each year with needless fanfare and revelry, the mindless retainers of the family draw public attention to a birthday bash minus the birthday boy. Invariably the question is asked: where is Rahul? And invariably the speculation centres on which country of the European Union was lucky enough to receive his patronage this year.
Rahul was a bit unlucky this year that his annual birthday break coincided with the tragedy in Uttarakhand. The Congress vice-president didn't quite realize the enormity of the disaster - after all he isn't terribly familiar with religious tourism - and was missing from the photo frames when the PM and Sonia Gandhi did their mandatory aerial survey and Narendra Modi rushed in where angels fear to tread. When he finally returned - did he cut short his holiday? - Rahul did the mandatory aerial survey but he failed to dispel the impression that he is never there when his party needs him the most.
The point is that Rahul's periodic breaks from the heat and dust of India have begun to be noticed and commented upon. Every now and then he disappears from public view and social media goes ballistic when he is sighted at Singapore airport or a transit lounge in Dubai. I think this is unfairly intrusive but it is also very Indian. The average Indian is not attuned, like Europeans are, to the idea of a getaway-from-it-all holiday. For the average desi family, a holiday is invariably a journey to a relative's house for a marriage or a religious pilgrimage. The idea that a politician who is already pampered with privileged housing and fast-track services should need another vacation to chill seems bizarre and is inevitably interpreted as a rich guy's indulgence. More so, when it is shrouded in excessive secrecy.
Recall the fuss some 27 years ago when Rajiv Gandhi took his extended family and friends for a Christmas break in Lakshadweep? It was said that he saved a whale but what people remembered was a PM in party mode, with the Indian Navy at his beck and call. The only other PM in recent times to take the odd break was Atal Behari Vajpayee. But even he had to pretend it was a busman's holiday by getting some ghost writer to pen some pretentious 'musings'. Contrast this with the US President who has a ranch at his disposal and the British PM who has a grand country house for both entertainment and reflection. And despite a gruesome murder of a soldier by a crazy Islamist in a crowded Woolwich street, David Cameron still went off on a private holiday where he was photographed sipping coffee with his wife, soaking in the sun and perhaps even under-tipping the waitress.
Presumably Rahul's shortbreaks are also full of such innocent pleasures - so important to keep one's sanity. Such a shame India doesn't understand him and his European sensibilities.


Natraj said...

Perplexed whether this is Sarcasm or serious writing.

rrd said...

Superb..isn't it a a young India I do not understand the basic inability of people of our country to understand incompetence and immaturity of baba..I hope I am wrong when he stands for election...

Gajendran said...

Beautiful sarcastic and at the same time real observations.Such a boy how can India tolerate as the future PM of India?He will vanish now and then and what will happen to the country?Looking ridiculous and irresponsible and nobody knows how he got so much money for his jaunts or who foot his bills?

Vinit Bolinjkar said...

Why are you focussing all your energies on exonerating Rahul baba. He's a grown up man and can H angle it himself. If he can't handle it then it simply means he is not fit to lead the nations.

Leaders don't need to be protected. Does Sonia need media protection. She can handle it on her own. I the sam eBay Rahul baba should also handle it. You are projecting him to the leader of the masses. Let him lead from the front and not thru the support of journalist pens

Sanatan said...

This is power without accountability. Amazing that media houses have published articles by IIT professors discussing minutest details of Modi's body language, but have no time to track Mr. Pappu Pizzawala and his mother's sudden foreign tours.

Hope we Indians will give ourselves a long (hopefully permanent) break from this mamma-beta duo. Just like Modi has given the congress a never-ending break from power in Gujarat, he will also give a perpetual break at the center too.

Jitendra Desai said...

In fact the time has come to probe all such "breaks" that the family has taken since last 30 years.If CBI can go on "probing" an encounter of LeT terrorists for nine long years to fix Modi,why should nation and media be so considerate and circumspect when it comes to The Family?

Anonymous said...

Since when have politicians in India got the luxury of annual extended holidays? If, God forbid, Rahul baba becomes the PM and on his predictable annual break to cooler climes of Europe we get attacked ?

Sujata Srinath said...

All other sarcasm on our Congi laadla is okay...but did you call NaMo a fool?!! Please not that...

Mayur said...

To check Rahul Baba's intelligence, please check below.
Rahul comedy with his infamous quotes