How Rahul Gandhi ended up tying himself in knots

Rahul Gandhi made a few revelations not many in the political circles were aware of: Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal was an 'idea'; Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was a 'view'; the Congress was simply trying to 'assist' the Aam Admi Party to give it a 'chance to prove themselves'; the solution to price rise was women empowerment; and RTI as a solution to corruption was his baby.

The Congress vice-president might have silenced some of his critics by interacting with the media and taking some straight questions from Times Now's Arnab Goswami, but the party now has the tough job of defending his naivety, incoherence, an overt lack of confidence while taking questions and repetitive pre-meditated answers even when questions are specific. The hour-plus interview, the first ever since he joined active politics, is unlikely to win admirers for Rahul Gandhi and make people queue up in large numbers at the polling stations to vote for the Congress in the coming elections.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

The Congress’ coming alliance with convicted Lalu Prasad in Bihar was not a compromise; it was driven by some ideological principle, he said. He claimed that "alliance with a political party with an idea not an individual". It looks as though Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and two of their nine children Teshwi and Tej Pratap stand for some mesmerising idea that the Congress vice-president finds appealing. This, despite the RJD leaders' track record of promoting corruption, nepotism, mal-governance goonda raj, et al.

While the political circles have been abuzz with the speculation that the Congress’s alliance Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and support to AAP are aimed at the singular purpose of containing Narendra Modi’s numbers in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Rahul thinks the partnerships are a principled. "Unfortunately, the political system today is at a particular place and I can't simply ignore the fact that the political system is at that place, so certainly there are points at which you might have to take a decision that you are not a 100 percent happy with but the long term idea for me is to transform the system, to bring in youngsters and make sure they are empowered," he said.

He is entitled to see himself as a mythological Arjun of the Mahabharat, but there are not many who would start seeing him as Arjuna re-born. Rahul comes out as an innocent, well-intentioned person. However, he is not there to be remembered as a good guy but to be the ruler of India. He is seeking votes for himself and his party to rule for another five years.

He is playing up a mix of family emotions and credit for all the great work he has supposedly done. These include his contribution to the RTI and Lokpal, democratising Youth Congress and NSUI, telling the prime minister and party chief ministers to bring down the prices of food grain and vegetables and winning elections in Karnataka, Himachal and Uttrakhand. For some reason, he didn’t mention the most obvious, Land Acquisition Bill.

Rahul is right when he says: "I look like an anomaly in the environment that I'm in." His notion that he was being targeted because he was asking disturbing questions about the system is equally misplaced, after all it was his family which either built or sustained that same system since India’s Independence.

He is trying to evoke an emotive appeal. "I'm asking questions over there. And everybody understands that this fellow here is not just a superficial chap who talks. This fellow over here is thinking deeply and is thinking long term. That's why I'm attacked. I understand that. And frankly, attack me all you want. Beat me to death. It's not going to stop me. I'm going to keep doing it."

Those who have witnessed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi know that state had turned a blind eye to give a free run to the rioters and big Congress leaders actively aided and abetted the heinous crime committed on the streets of Delhi and outside. It is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who by making some tough uncharitable remarks against Modi made opposition BJP reopen 1984 riot debate. To be fair to Rahul, he was forced to defend a situation he never wanted to get engaged in.

It was indeed a big bold move by Rahul Gandhi and his core strategists to give an open interview of this kind, but this PR big exercise went completely awry. The lesser mortals in the Congress didn’t like to see their leader so out of depth and being bulldozed by an interviewer on specifics.

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2014 22:03:04 IST

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