THE DAY OFTHE OUT­SIDER

BY RIS­ING AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHOSE LEGACY CAN KILL HIS BEST IN­TEN­TIONS, RAHUL, UN­LIKE ANY OTHER GANDHI BE­FORE HIM, WANTED TO COR­RECT A FAM­ILY MIS­TAKE— A VERY EX­PEN­SIVE MIS­TAKE. HE DIS­TANCED HIM­SELF FROM THE ROT­TEN UPA ES­TAB­LISH­MENT, AND DE­CLARED THE AUTO

India Today - - SIGNATURE - S. PRASAN­NARA­JAN

Spon­tane­ity is the priv­i­lege of the bravest in pol­i­tics. Only those who give a damn to the trap­doors of re­alpoli­tik can af­ford to speak out their mind and tap the zeit­geist. So when Rahul Gandhi tore apart that ob­nox­ious or­di­nance pre­pared by the witch­doc­tors of UPA, he was per­form­ing an act In­dia wanted to see— and in­tro­duc­ing the Idea of Rahul Gandhi that is more in tune with the mood of the na­tion, an idea that is com­pat­i­ble with the anx­i­eties and as­pi­ra­tions of In­dia. Till that day of Rahul Re­booted, he was the spo­radic prince sus­tained by in­her­i­tance and en­ti­tle­ment, and go­ing by his record as a Congress of­fi­cial and MP, a pretty av­er­age politi­cian. His In­dia, when­ever he ex­pressed it in a tremu­lous pas­sage of scream of con­scious­ness, re­sem­bled an am­a­teur’s sub­al­tern vi­sion. As al­most ev­ery Con­gress­man des­per­ately needed the shel­ter­ing shadow of a Gandhi in the wake of Modi, he was else­where, a fig­ure caught be­tween the bur­den of his sur­name and the or­ders of his in­ner de­mons. Then he had that De Niro mo­ment— you talkin’ to me?— and ev­ery­thing changed, ex­cept of course an over­whelm­ing non­sense called the Man­mo­han Singh Gov­ern­ment. Who cares, ac­tu­ally, about a life­less regime presided over by a prime min­is­ter who re­fuses to ac­cept his re­dun­dancy? Rahul cared. Still, a sec­tion of the com­men­tariat could not ac­cept the authen­tic­ity of his anger. For them what mat­tered most was his unin­spir­ing back story. Not his “no” to the dark arts of a gov­ern­ment which would even go to the ex­tent of crim­i­nal­is­ing the Par­lia­ment for sur­vival.

Hence we heard a lot about the faux anger of the prince who hu­mil­i­ated his Prime Min­is­ter. We heard about his own com­plic­ity in the mak­ing of the or­di­nance: Where was he when the party put its stamp on the non­sense? What was the need to hijack a fam­ily re­tainer’s press con­fer­ence to bare his con­science when he could have eas­ily killed the damn thing in the very be­gin­ning it­self? The spec­tac­u­lar is no sub­sti­tute for sub­stance, so went the verdict by those who were not swayed by the drama of Rahul’s dis­sent. In­stinc­tive pol­i­tics doesn’t fol­low the rule­book, and its finest mo­ments are when the in­sider be­comes the out­sider. Cer­tain amount of the­atre is in­evitable when truth is spo­ken by the one who could have eas­ily been part of the lie. Rahul spoke when the lie, in­sti­tu­tion­alised by his own gov­ern­ment to pro­tect the fu­ture of a few rogues in the House, threat­ened the fu­ture of In­dian democ­racy it­self. It is not the reck­less­ness of the ex­tra- con­sti­tu­tional con­science keeper; it is a dar­ing dis­play of con­vic­tion pol­i­tics. At this mo­ment in Rahul’s ca­reer, what stands be­tween his ideal­ism and his fu­ture is not Naren­dra Modi but Man­mo­han Singh. By ris­ing against the one man whose legacy can kill his best in­ten­tions, Rahul, un­like any other Gandhi be­fore him, wanted to cor­rect a fam­ily mis­take— a very ex­pen­sive mis­take. He dis­tanced him­self from the rot­ten UPA es­tab­lish­ment, and de­clared the au­ton­omy of his con­science. This Gov­ern­ment is irredeemable; the most pow­er­ful out­sider can still redeem the party.

It is a vari­a­tion of the story from the other side of the aisle. Modi played the out­sider for a longer pe­riod within his own party, and in the end, be­came the party. The post- 2004 BJP was a study in de­featism, and it con­stantly failed to har­vest the re­sent­ment of an In­dia ran­sacked by the UPA Gov­ern­ment. Modi was the loner, the per­ma­nent out­sider whose cam­paign for In­dia be­came more force­ful— and gal­vanis­ing— than his party’s. To­day, even as the Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia ad­mits that he doesn’t have the free­dom to re­sign in spite of be­ing re­minded of his worth­less­ness, the arena is set for two com­pet­ing out­siders united by their rage against Dr. Non­sense.

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