LK Advani is a self-avowed fan of Indian cinema. Perhaps he can remind Rahul Gandhi of a scene from Vishal Bhardwaj's Omkara and the prophetic words of Langda Tyaagi.
In that film, after Langda Tyaagi (played by Saif Ali Khan) intercepts Rajju's (Deepak Dobriyal's) baraat, the bridegroom gets agitated and threatens to jump off a bridge. What the foul-mouthed Tyaagi tells Rajju, when he keeps repeating his threat but does nothing, would be too unparliamentary in the days of Pahlaj Nihalani. But, pleasantly put, Tyaagi asks Dobriyal: Why don't you jump, who is holding you back?
Exactly, Mr Advani? And ditto, Mr Gandhi?
For the past few days, Indians are being entertained by two teasers. One of Advani threatening to resign. And two, the Congress leader promising to expose Prime Minister Narendra Modi and "burst his balloon." Why don't they, as the famous punchline goes, just do it?
There is indeed a bit of Dobriyal in both of them. In spite of the age difference, diverse political backgrounds and ideologies, Advani and Gandhi share the same pain: Of perpetually being the grooms-in-waiting. Like Dobriyal in Omkara, both feel they were deprived of their brides (prime minister's post).
There are just two ways to deal with the pain of a shattered dream: Either you get over the setback, accept it as destiny, without being bitter or vengeful and move on. Or, you start afresh and do something about it, take destiny in your own hands, or at least try to.
But, Advani seems to be doing neither. He neither accepts closure nor does anything concrete to address his pain, or thwarted ambition, if you will. Periodically, he comes out of the BJP archives and makes his presence felt by either sulking in public or threatening to quit, which, he never does. And, after throwing some verbal darts, he usually ends up eating his own words. Wonder how much havoc all that regurgitating-followed-by-swallowing would be causing to his digestion at this tender age!
It is difficult to understand why Advani, the original Lauh Purush of the BJP, poster boy of Hindutva, harbinger of Ram Rajya, prime minister's protector-in-chief and self-proclaimed mentor, has suddenly undergone a makeover to turn into another Shakespearean character of our age — Hamlet. After having decisively led the BJP from its two seats in 1984 to the 88 in the next election, why can't Advani be bold enough to sort out his existential challenge. Is it fear? The pain of becoming irrelevant in politics, which, in case he doesn't know, he already is? Or, is it the pursuit of some unrequited ambition, like retiring in the Rashtrapati Bhavan? What is it that keeps Advani make desultory noises and then calm down, like a child suddenly given a soother?
Frankly, if Advani were really worried about the fate of politics, about the absence of internal democracy within his party; if he were really concerned about what Atal Bihari Vajpayee would have felt watching the treasury benches disrupt Parliament, he could have by now quit, like he did when he was named in the Jain Hawala case, and at least gone down fighting like a warrior he once was. But, by behaving like a disgruntled baraati at a wedding who starts sulking only to seek some attention, he is only hastening his decline from the erstwhile Lauh Purush to Indian politics oldest cry baby. With his do-this-else-I-jump fulminations, he is doing to his legacy what his kar sevaks once did to the disputed shrine in Ayodhya — dismantling it.
There are, of course, lessons to be learnt from this for Rahul Gandhi, who, too seems to be perennially I-will-destroy-you-but-you-don't-let me-do-it mode. Empty talk and bluster, jumlas and slogans, like Advani's ''Mandir wahin banayenge" — can be sold to a gullible public only for a certain amount of time. Once people see behind the mukhauta (mask) (Vajpayee, Advani would recall, was once called the civilised mask of the Hindutva brigade), the fall from grace, loss of credibility is irreversible.
Gandhi is lucky that in spite of his history of failures, volte-faces, flights from battle scenes after talking big, Indian politics keeps offering him opportunities to redeem himself. The anger around demonetisation has once again given him a chance to speak up for the suffering masses, become the voice of the opposition.
If he doesn't want to become the Advani of Indian politics at half the BJP marg darshak's age, Rahul needs to live up to his threats and boasts. Over the past few days, he has promised a political earthquake, threatened to reveal "bulletproof" evidence of prime minister's "personal corruption."
The stage is set, the country is waiting, the media is in full attendance. As Langda Tyaagi would have said: If you really have the guts, the courage to take on the Omkara of our age, go take the plunge. Nobody is holding you back.
Or become Advani, the sulking bride-in-perpetual-waiting.
Updated Date: Dec 16, 2016 13:51:10 IST