Rahul Gandhi is not such a bad choice as prime minister actually. The only problem is he is taking too long to learn. If you take more than seven years to learn things at a village school, the teachers call you unflattering names. They make you sit at a corner in the last row and sometimes expect you to do many unpleasant tasks.
Rahul, of course, does not belong to that category. The Gandhi family never had a great reputation for scholarship but nothing stopped others in the family from becoming prime ministers. So, it hardly matters. It’s obvious Digvijaya Singh, the teacher-mentor, is not doing a great job. Rahul must ask for a refund if he does not come out with flying colours in 2014. Acharya Chanakya did a much better job with his talented pupil Chandragupta Maurya close to 2,000 years ago. Digvijaya has spotted similar incredible abilities in his ward though.
So, what has he learnt so far? Well, as is the case with all students with great invisible talent, you cannot be too sure. Here are a few that have come out clear so far.
He has mastered the art of being a great guest. He lands up anywhere in any corner of the country and makes himself comfortable at anybody’s house. The poorer the host, the better; it gets him a lot of attention. That’s the best way of getting first-hand experience of poverty, his guru must have told him. Nothing wrong with that. Only, the host is forgotten soon. Ask Kalawati, the woman from Vidarbha who featured large in the debut speech of Rahul in Parliament. She still remains poor and miserable.
The biggest improvement evident in the Gandhi scion so far is the skill to shoot and scoot. He manages to sneak into trouble spots across the country with disturbing regularity, irritating the local administration and his own security men no end. The state governments, obviously belonging to the opposition parties, are left fuming at his guerrilla technique, but can do little about it. It’s a bizarre chor-police game, which has ceased to be entertaining. Mayawati, in Uttar Pradesh, must be scratching her head in bewilderment at Rahul’s strange activities.
Hit and run. It’s indeed an innovative route to political success! Digvijaya is clearly thinking out of the box and his ward is memorising his lessons fast.
Rahul has learnt to project himself as a nice person, being all things to all people, very much in the tradition of the party he belongs to. So, he talks about farmers at one place, becomes the tribals’ representative in Delhi at another and the messiah of the dispossessed somewhere else. The words do not come with much clarity or with a vision embedded, but it is enough to create bubbles of temporary goodwill. He means nothing actually. Bhatta-Parsaul is a case in point. After staging a high-voltage drama at UP villages, he seems to have forgotten the farmers in trouble there. His qualities are admirable in a neighbour, but not in a leader.
He must ask his mentor why he comes across as such a non-serious politician despite trying so hard. His party has not given up on him though. Possibly, it is resigned to the prospect of him taking over as the prime minister at some point. “It (Rahul becoming prime minister) is something he will decide, party high command will decide, the people of India will decide,” said party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan on Monday.
She claimed that the young leader has brought about a tremendous change, especially among the youth, and in areas of democratisation of the party, reaching out to farmers, dalits and disadvantaged sections of society. No disputes here. The futility is well understood. She refused to answer the question on the big ‘when’, saying she was not an astrologer.
But people, have patience. The prince is learning. He will be there after he learns some more. The field is open for him. The BJP’s next prime ministerial candidate is yet to be born. The rest of the Opposition has given up on finding one. Rahul can go on learning for 40 more years at least. Forget the school teachers in the village school. They were never good at spotting talent.