'Unfortunately For You': The Challenge Of Hand-Holding Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi is undeniably fortunate to have a multitude of mentors to advise him in navigating the complex landscape of Indian politics, or as some might argue, to gently ease him into it.
From Digvijay Singh, Sam Pitroda and now Jairam Ramesh, the Congress party's veterans or allies of the late Rajiv Gandhi have taken on the challenging role of playing a mentor to the serving Wayanad MP.
Jairam Ramesh, who currently finds himself in the 'hot seat', has been seen making sincere efforts to save him from becoming the reason for jokes on national TV.
During a recent press interaction, when Gandhi remarked that 'unfortunately, he is an MP', Ramesh was quick to remind him of the meme-worthy potential of such a statement.
The challenges of tutoring Gandhi, as Ramesh has discovered, are not lost on his predecessors.
Digvijay, Sitaram Yechury, and Sharad Pawar are just a few of the names that have been credited with shaping Gandhi's political career and philosophy. However, despite their efforts, it is they who have been pushed into the political wilderness, while Gandhi hopped from one relaunch to another.
And the damage isn't just limited to people who are regarded as Rahul's mentors; it also includes people Gandhi is said to have special appreciation for.
For instance, Mani Shankar Aiyar's "chaiwala" jibe, which mocked PM Modi's humble beginnings, turned out to be a costly mistake for the Congress loyalist. In an interview with a Pakistani channel, Aiyar urged Pakistan to "remove Modi."
Similarly, Digvijay Singh's conspiracy theories calling 26/11 "RSS ki Saazish" or his statement claiming that the Batla House encounter was fake reflected the worst form of minority appeasement.
Singh's comments on Congress leader from MP, considered close to Rahul Gandhi, Meenakshi Natrajan, calling her "tunch maal," were also some of the turning points in his political destiny.
Most recently, during Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra, he questioned the surgical strikes, embarrassing the party. The next day, Ramesh was seen physically stopping a reporter asking questions of Digvijay.
Sam Pitroda, the technocrat, has also mentored Gandhi from time to time. But every time Pitroda intervenes, he seems to create more controversy than resolve.
In 2019, when questioned about the Sikh riots, he callously remarked, "Hua toh hua (Yes, they happened, So what?)". Recently, when asked about Gandhi's comments disparaging Indian democracy on foreign soil and calling for intervention, he remarked, "What's the problem, though?"
As one delves into Gandhi's past mentors, a clearer picture emerges of where he draws his political wisdom from.
Whether it's his tendency to badmouth India on foreign soil and call for interference in the nation's affairs, or his constant suspicion of the RSS, his political theatrics seem to reflect the company he has kept over the years.
The list of people who have Rahul's ears also includes the party's general secretary, KC Venugopal, who has become Gandhi's shadow in the past few years. He was the one credited with the idea of Gandhi contesting from Wayanad, Kerala, when the writing was on the wall in Amethi in 2019.
Though Gandhi won from Wayanad, the Congress lost the electorally significant state of Uttar Pradesh, with zero possibility of ever gaining power there.
While it may seem harsh to suggest that Rahul Gandhi, the 52-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, lacks the ability to use his own mind, it is difficult to ignore his tendency to appear rather "Pappu" or juvenile when left to his own devices. We are reminded of the time when he tried to grab headlines by planting a surprise hug at PM Modi during a Lok Sabha session.
It is clear that Gandhi requires constant tutoring and hand-holding by close colleagues in order to avoid such embarrassing missteps. However, the larger concern is that he seems to lack the depth and substance required to hold his own in political discourse, relying instead on others to even sound coherent.
Despite massive PR expenditures, the current situation makes it almost impossible to salvage Rahul Gandhi's, and by extension, Congress's dwindling fortunes.
However, the real danger lies in the fact that the compliant a Gandhi becomes a puppet in the hands of those who seek to meddle in the domestic politics of India. A glimpse of this was evident during his recent visit to London.
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