Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rahul and India’s Tryst with Destiny

Rahul Gandhi praises the left parties and expect they would support a Congress-led government at the Centre, raising hackles among his allies: news

At last, a Gandhi returns to the Nehruvian ideas...!

A FEW weeks ago, when a friend came to discuss politics, I said I would be happy if one day Rahul Gandhi took over the reins of this country.

He was aghast. He said in that case he would surely migrate to Pakistan or some other country. Like Rahul, he too belonged to a family that was a part of nationalist tradition; his great grandfather, like Jawaharlal Nehru to Rahul, was a freedom fighter who spent many years in jail and suffered immense hardships.

I was surely joking, or I thought I was joking, but ever since I was thinking about this issue: How would I or my friend who found the suggestion quite revolting, would accept the day when Rahul actually takes over the reins of this country? Or in other words, is there anything inherently wrong with or revolting about a scion of a great family taking over the reins of a nation, begetting the charge as a family trust?

Well, if you go by copybook democracy, you would surely find it revolting. Democracy means the rule of the people and the people would decide who should rule them, right? That means, there is no question of a family inheritance.

I have no quarrel with it, if the Indian people, myself included, in their own wisdom, decide to anoint a person of their own choice as their leader. But do you think this is possible, at least in the foreseeable future? How do our leaders emerge and what forces are propelling them in public life?

I have been in the Communist Party for some time and from what I have seen there, I am sure if you want to rise up in the party or emerge as a people’s representative, you need clout, real clout, with the leader or the group of leaders who call the shots. Or you should be the son/daughter/wife of such leaders or at least close relatives. Look at our MPs or ministers and you should know what I mean. In CPI, another party which shouts the loudest about propriety in public life, the situation is worse: In Kerala 50 per cent of their ministers are sons of former leaders and even in the party, the sons and daughters rule the roost.

I don’t blame communists for taking care of their kids first. If the parents do not take care, then who would look after the children? And I tell you, I have seen the celebrity sons of other leaders, like K Muralidharan and M K Muneer, sons of former chiefs ministers K Karunakaran and C H Muhammed Koya, enter politics and rise up in the echelons of their respective parties. Both of them first started out in Kozhikode, where I was a reporter, and no one today asks how did they enter politics. They are now part and parcel of our political life. Both had held positions of power and no one asked how could they attain such positions of power so early in their career.

So I do not think there is anything inherently wrong or unethical in Rahul entering politics and taking over the reins of his party or this country. Only if he is good enough to run a country like India.

And how does Rahul look in his role as a career politician?

I had watched him speak in Lok Sabha in the confidence motion a few months ago, where he spoke about his encounter with a village woman called Kalavathi, and his press conference the other day, and I do feel he is sincere, and is a lot more intelligent than he looks. He made remarks which were not very apt in the present circumstances, like his praise for communists when fierce anti-communists like Mamata Banerjee are his party’s allies in Bengal right now. But in the long run, I think, he would prove right.

More than a quarter century ago, when Sanjay Gandhi entered politics, I had heard Khushwant Singh sing praise for the man, who proved to be a mere bully. Then Rajiv Gandhi came to politics reluctantly, and he was no success either. But sure, politics was not his first choice.

Now why do I feel Rahul would be different? Somehow, his face reminds me of a great tradition in India and he conjures up the images of his great grandfather, the man who spoke about India’s tryst with destiny. Maybe Rahul too is part of that destiny.

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