"Let's go." "We can't." "Why not?" "We are waiting for Godot."
It must be hard to be a Congressman waiting for their Godot.
It must require a special talent to be a career politician and not sound like a cuckolded wife in complete denial as you tell the media:
a) That you don’t know where your party vice president and heir apparent is, and you have not known for weeks on end. And you are still not filing a police report about a missing person.
b)That though you don't know where your yuvraj is, you are sure that he’s thinking deeply about you and your well-being even though he has not even sent a picture postcard.
c)That the party is doing fine, thank you very much, without the yuvraj here... but no of course, he is indispensable as well.
d)That it's none of your business where your vice president is or has been for weeks or for that matter what he thinks about the Land Reform bill.
e)That it's a perfectly normal leader-like thing to do to abandon your party for an indefinite period of time with no intimation of a return date.
Forget all the unctuous rhetoric of politicians as the servants of the people. Rahul Gandhi has shown his party that he's indisputably the boss in a way even a Bollywood patriarch can not. Arvind Kejriwal had to physically show up and give his Solomon speech to the troops to take control of his party. Rahul does not even need to send an email. This is beyond remote control. "I have no clue where he is and I see no reason why I should know about it," says his party spokesperson Manish Tewari proving that Rahul’s whereabouts are not a Congress secret as much as a Congress black hole.
No employer could stand for an employee who just goes MIA for weeks with no communication. Shah Rukh Khan could not do this without denting his brand. Even a family business could not do this without affecting company stock. Only Rahul can. This is job security beyond anyone's wildest dreams. "Such magnanimity should make the Congress one of the best places to work in India," quips The Telegraph.
Say what you will about the indecisive, communication-challenged, faux pas-prone Rahul Gandhi, he's actually showing a kind of daring. He just upped and left and his party gets to pick up the pieces. With a smile.
So his lawyer dutifully goes to court in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra to plead that Rahul cannot appear in his defamation case filed by an RSS worker because "he is on leave even from Parliament for personal reasons."
His party has already twice explained that their vice president has "extended" his absence because his "introspection and contemplation" is taking longer than expected. The other Gandhi probably did not have to spend this long in self-imposed solitary to figure out how to oust the British from India.
The mother, the Congress president, who has not been in good health, is having to gird her loins and complete her son’s homework without complaining.
"In India, we do not have the concept of people in public life seeking out personal time," Ambika Soni tells the Indian Express. "He is a young leader, entitled to follow his own ideas." (Translation: He has felt no need to enlighten poor Ambika Aunty about what those ideas are).
All this requires not just arrogance and a sense of entitlement. It needs something the media always thought Rahul Gandhi lacked – cojones. Rahul Gandhi is effectively giving the Congress the finger and there's not a damned thing they can do about it.
Who would have thought that the always too-earnest and rather bumbling Rahul had this much chutzpah hidden up his kurta sleeve? It’s his party and he'll show up when he wants to.
In the process Rahul has managed to do what Narendra Modi has perfected. He's made himself the story and our normally rambunctious media is playing ball as well. April 19 is supposed to be a big day for the Congress when it has scheduled a massive farmers' rally in Delhi. But as The Telegraph reports the rally is getting media buzz not because of the farmers it's purportedly about but because "all" important leaders who are supposed to be present.
All? Could that mean Rahul Gandhi as well? "Definitely, he will," asserts a Congress leader who remains unnamed. In other parties leaders remain unnamed because they are gossiping about palace coups, internal power struggles or tricky votes. Rahul has turned Congress into a party where leaders cannot go on the record about something as basic as his attendance at his own party’s rally. That is a feat in itself.
And in the process we are left with Sonia Gandhi who becomes, as Shiv Visvanathan writes in India Today, "the only mass figure in the Congress" – "an improbable phenomena, an Italian Catholic playing mother-in-law to the Congress." She is "part immaculate conception, part Teflon-coated politician" who "screech-stammers" her speeches in Hindi and yet "oddly she, not Rahul or Priyanka is the Congress." Mocked, called names and sneered at, she was not supposed to have lasted in Indian politics as long as she has. But she is now the Congress’ longest-serving president having taken over the reins in 1998. Now thanks to Rahul’s limbo she has de facto gotten an extension. Whatever the quality of her leadership, it remains unchallenged and she remains indispensable to the party as it remains frozen in limbo essentially unchanged from its electoral rout in 2014.
"Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful," wrote Samuel Beckett in Waiting for Godot.
Of course in our desi version of the Beckett play unfolding in Delhi, the great fear is that Rahul will come *and* nothing will continue to happen.
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Updated Date: Apr 02, 2015 07:05:07 IST