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
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.