CP Joshi shoots from hip again: Rahul Gandhi's trusted aide releases Ram Mandir genie from Congress bottle
CP Joshi's utterances on Hinduism and the argument that only a Congress-led government can build a Ram Temple at Ayodhya may, of course, have been a manifestation of his subconscious desire to catch the attention of the Congress president, give words to the party’s current drive to embrace soft Hindutva.
CP Joshi must be really good at hopping around on one foot. This can be safely presumed because his one foot is invariably stuck in his mouth that is used to uttering words that either lead to avoidable controversies or win him a loyal battalion of enemies.
It is a pity that Joshi suffers from the foot-in-mouth syndrome because his mentor, former Congress chief minister Mohan Lal Sukhadia, was the perfect practitioner of the art of not saying a word, something that he achieved by always stuffing his mouth with paan. Remember Pankaj Kapoor in Maqbool advising a politician, "gillory khaya karo, miyan, zubaan kaboo main rehti hai?"
The problem with Joshi is that he likes to think aloud, sometimes forgetting that what should remain in the private recesses of his mind should not be uttered in public. But Joshi, who loves the sound of his own voice, is fascinated by the self-presumed brilliance of his own logic and believes that everyone other than him is in dire need of being educated by him. So, give him an audience, put him up on a stage and Joshi would just let his tongue loose.
That’s exactly what has happened with his recent lecture on Hinduism at an election rally in Rajasthan. Those who know him can safely wager he was overawed by the occasion and blurted out specious arguments like: Only Brahmins and intellectuals can talk about Hinduism; that people like Uma Bharati had no business talking about the religion because they are, unlike him, not Brahmins. The impromptu lecture, like all of Joshi’s soliloquies, must have been an impulsive thought donated for public consumption because of his compulsive desire to sound pedagogic.
Joshi, don’t forget, is a former university teacher. And, as they say, you can make a politician out of a professor but you can never take the professor out of a politician. Also, Joshi is a worshipper of Che Guevara and considers himself a revolutionary in the same mould. This contradictory mishmash of Brahminical upbringing in a holy city — Nathadwara, penchant for teaching and Marxist moorings often makes Joshi sound a confused philosopher who speaks too much for his own good. Just like Mani Shankar Aiyyar, another Congress leader with a misplaced sense of entitlement and the hubris typical of those who believe themselves to be twice born — once as themselves and the second time as self-styled beacons of intellect.
Joshi’s problem is that his penchant for speaking too much in his trademark style that makes him sound angry and arrogant even when he is not, has made his career look like a game of snakes and ladders. Just a few months ago, he was Rahul Gandhi’s trusted lieutenant, a powerful general secretary in charge of key states. Before that, even though he was a first-term parliamentarian, Joshi was inducted as a Cabinet minister in UPA-II, a privilege accorded to him because of the belief that Rahul Gandhi was learning the art and craft of politics under Joshi’s tutelage.
But, just as his career was hovering near the peak, he was bitten by the proverbial snake. Today, he is on the margins, stripped of power in the Congress and relegated to backbenches in Rajasthan Congress, where he was once seen as potential chief minister.
His utterances on Hinduism and the argument that only a Congress-led government can build a Ram Temple at Ayodhya may, of course, have been a manifestation of his subconscious desire to catch the attention of the Congress president, give words to the party’s current drive to embrace soft Hindutva. But, it is quite likely that he made these pronouncements without weighing his own logic, misled by the tragic belief that everything coming out of his mouth is profound and deeply philosophical.
The reporter had once asked Joshi which is his favourite song and film. He said the Uttam Kumar classic Amansush is the closest to his heart and its immortal song, Dil Aisa Kisi Ne Mera Toda, his favorite. He then quickly clarified that it wasn’t because his heart was broken irreparably in youth but only because of the quality of the film and the lyricism and poetry of the song.
Now, that he has created an unnecessary controversy by arguing for Brahminical superiority, released the djinn of Ram Mandir from the Congress bottle, Joshi would have many reasons to sing his favourite song. His dream—he still had an outside chance—of becoming the next chief minister is now gone, something that will shatter his heart. He would be lucky if his words do not end up breaking the heart of Rahul Gandhi by letting the BJP turn Joshi into the Aiyyar of Rajasthan—the man who shot his own party from the lip.
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