Rahul Gandhi's "resignation letter" had me in splits. Don't get me wrong, I am not being frivolous. I am sure having decided to step down as Congress president, Rahul must have written it in all seriousness (assuming he wrote it himself). The gravitas and pathos must be genuine and the comedy purely unintentional.
But that's the thing about comedies. It's all about the timing. Humour is at its best when it arrives unannounced, dressed in the garb of seriousness. Littered through Rahul's letter are hilarious little gems. What makes the effect even funnier is that the former Congress president sounds solemn and severe in his letter — that he shared on Twitter — and appears unaware of the tragicomic interventions. This is the highest form of comedy. Either Rahul really doesn’t know history, which is amusing in itself, or he is too confident about the shortness of public memory. Some of the claims that he makes in the letter are hypocritical.
But we are going ahead of ourselves. Not just the content of the letter, but its very timing is uproarious. Nearly 45 days since he threatened to relinquish his post following Congress’s second-successive drubbing in Lok Sabha polls — leaving the party in limbo, workers stupefied and leaders resembling headless chickens — Rahul finally tendered his resignation on Wednesday and nonchalantly talked about a "smooth transition". You need confidence to pull off such a stunt.
The first few paragraphs are meant to showcase Rahul as a conscientious politician who takes the blame for an electoral debacle on his chin and resigns. Instead, what becomes evident is fake humility. The superciliousness shines through despite half-hearted attempts at contrition.
The fact is that Rahul has presided over possibly Congress' worst electoral defeat. In some ways, this loss is even more soul-sapping than the 2014 drubbing despite the party getting a few more seats because its gains have come largely from two states and it has been completely wiped out in 18 states and Union Territories. This cross is Rahul’s to bear because he chose his team, he selected his generals, he devised the strategy, chose the candidates.
The thing to do would have been to tender an unfussy resignation without sounding so lofty. Just as in any walk of life, in politics too, leaders must make way for others if they fail in their jobs instead of making the inevitable process seem like a supreme sacrifice. It is possible that the entitled dynast thinks the country is his family's jaagir for him to stoop and conquer.
Going past the arrogance, we hit a series of tall claims that are gold (comic relief wise).
Rahul claims Congress "fought a strong and dignified election. Our campaign was one of brotherhood, tolerance and respect…" he goes on to write that he learnt a lot from the "the spirit and dedication of our workers and party members, men and women who have taught me about love and decency."
One isn’t sure which election campaign Rahul is talking about. If it is the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, then it has been marked as the most vicious political campaign ever with neither side showing reticence. While Rahul sought to claim a moral high ground, leaders of the Congress had referred to Narendra Modi as "Hitler, Mussolini, indecent, ill-mannered, rabies-infected monkey, rat, snake and scorpion," as the prime minister recounted during campaigning in Kurukshetra May.
As for Rahul’s "love and decency", he claimed to have "shattered prime minister’s incorruptible image" and in so doing angered the Supreme Court by attributing to the judiciary his own slogan ‘chowkidar chor hai’ and consequently had to apologise.
Rahul then talks about a free and fair election and "neutrality of a country’s institutions", "a free press", an "independent judiciary, and a transparent election commission that is objective and neutral." Amit Shah, in his recent speech in Parliament over extending President's Rule in Kashmir, recounted Congress’s holding of "free and fair elections" in Kashmir in 1957, 1962 and 1967 where large-scale rigging, according to him, generated distrust between the Kashmiris and the Union of India.
"There was one Abdul Khaliq, the district magistrate of Srinagar, which then covered half of the Valley. There used to be two types of MLAs back then, one elected by people and the other by Khaliq saheb. Papers were filed before Khaliq saheb, who would accept the papers and ensure that 25-31 MLAs were elected unopposed," said Shah in Parliament. In response, Congress benches could not utter a word.
As for "independent judiciary", one needs to only gently remind the fifth generation dynast of the word ‘Emergency’, promulgated by his grandmother Indira Gandhi who handpicked a Supreme Court chief justice of her choice bypassing three senior judges — Justices Shelat, Hegde and Grover — who had also given ruling on the Kesavananda Bharati case that Indira, the former prime minister, did not like. As this article in The Indian Express points out, "Congress leader Mohan Kumaramangalam had defended Indira Gandhi’s move to supersede the three senior judges, saying that it is not just the skill or integrity that matters but also “the philosophy and outlook of the judge".
And why go back in history? Browbeating of judiciary runs in Rahul’s veins as his party tried to bully former chief justice Dipak Mishra by bringing an impeachment motion against him that was eventually thrown out. There have also been instances of Congress elevating a party MP as a judge in a high court and then in the Supreme Court.
One may go on and on, but more examples are unnecessary. What comes through in Rahul’s letter is the sense of entitlement that remains unmatched and undiminished despite the Indian public rejecting the party lock, stock and barrel. The icing on the cake, however, was provided by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who tweeted:
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) July 4, 2019
Apparently one needs rare “courage” to resign after failing pathetically in one’s job. Priyanka and Rahul are an unbeatable team. At stand-up comedy.
Updated Date: Jul 04, 2019 17:10:03 IST