August 10, 2020

Rahul Gandhi ought to both take cost or get out of the way in which, writes Barkha Dutt – columns



After a established order reprieve from the excessive court docket, Sachin Pilot and the insurgent Congress legislators in his camp is not going to be disqualified from a belief vote, not less than for now. And that’s the place the Rajasthan political drama is shifting in the direction of in its ultimate act — a belief vote within the meeting.

However, regardless of the optics, the Rajasthan story isn’t about Rajasthan in any respect.

Its geography is mere coincidence. It is a story concerning the disaster of management within the Congress occasion, specifically, that of the Gandhi family.

Each the protagonists — Ashok Gehlot, the three-time chief minister and his challenger, a second-generation Congressman whose father, Rajesh Pilot had additionally challenged Sonia Gandhi in his time — have proven strengths and weaknesses. Pilot confirmed power in elevating his voice in a celebration, the place lots of his compatriots assume precisely as he does, however received’t open their mouths to say so. He confirmed a chink in his armour, nevertheless, by not strolling out neatly and protecting a channel of communication open with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Gehlot displayed old-world survival instincts by protecting a grip on his legislators, together with a number of unbiased Members of the Legislative Meeting (MLAs), who have been previously with the Congress, and whom Gehlot had craftily used earlier too to solidify his pitch as chief minister. His weak point was on show when he used coarse language for Pilot, calling him a “nikamma and nikara”, thereby vindicating Pilot’s grievances on being undermined.

However regardless of which aspect you might be on within the Gehlot versus Pilot battle, the questions should be directed to the Congress. It’s greater than a yr since Rahul Gandhi abdicated his put up as president and vowed that no member of his family would take the job. Since then, his mom has taken over the put up and her presence, over all decision-making, is obvious in spirit. Sister Priyanka grew to become the via-media for discussions with Pilot, however nobody precisely is aware of in what capability. And Rahul Gandhi selected the very day the Congress launched audio tapes on a purported deal-making between the Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP) and Sachin Pilot’s aides to additionally launch his new video collection. The outcome: Media and public consideration shifted swiftly to what Gandhi had mentioned on China and banalities such because the size of his hair and the lighting on his face.

Rahul Gandhi could properly have some extent when he says that a lot of the printed media is captured at this time by establishmentarianism. Or when he calls out faux information narratives. However, aside from searching for to show himself to be the antithesis of the BJP’s caricature of him — and albeit for a celebration that’s going through an existential disaster, dwelling on that’s an egotistical self-indulgence — what goal do these movies serve? Why is Rahul Gandhi interviewing economists as a substitute of hitting the streets? Why is his sister arguing with city improvement minister Hardeep Singh Puri on the trivialities of when she’s going to vacate her government-allotted bungalow, as a substitute of getting had the intuition to grab the second and go away it as quickly as her Particular Safety Group (SPG) cowl was withdrawn?

The Congress is in free-fall for quite a lot of causes. There may be an inter-generational conflict throughout the occasion, with old-timers refusing to make method. There’s a blurring of ideological positioning. The occasion has grown defensive on each nationalism and secularism.And the pragmatic alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has blunted its claims on ideological purity. Above all, the occasion has no political narrative. Gandhi’s video collection could inform us that he’s fairly a considerate, well-read and fairly brilliant and engaged particular person, not like what his detractors within the BJP declare. However after years in politics, your messaging can’t be about what you aren’t; there needs to be one thing you signify that captures the creativeness of the individuals.

Above all, the dissonance isn’t dynasty alone. In any case, Pilot too is a dynast. It’s the rising notion that the Gandhis need energy with out incomes it or with out taking up the duty of wielding it. Rahul Gandhi can’t stay de facto head of the Congress, utilizing his mom as a placeholder until he makes up his thoughts on his subsequent steps. His sister can’t invoke Indira Gandhi but once more, whereas a raging debate on nepotism occupies the talk in middle-class households. The exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot can’t be framed when it comes to legalities, technicalities and even public morality. Politics is Darwinian. People will prioritise their future first. A rising variety of Congressmen and girls imagine the occasion provides no future to them. And its management continues to deal with the nation’s oldest political occasion like a mother and pop retailer as a substitute of an expert, fashionable organisation.

Rahul Gandhi ought to both take cost or get out of the way in which.

Barkha Dutt is an award-winning journalist and creator

The views expressed are private