Lok Sabha poll results: India prefers to move on beyond dynasties

Rahul Gandhi just could not break through. He did not come through the ranks as others.

Damned if he does. Damned if he does not. That is the terrible state of the poor little rich boy. Who else? The scion of Gandhi dynasty - Mr Rahul Gandhi- the incumbent president of Indian National Congress. The Grand Old Party is in the throes of convulsions, as Rahul Gandhi is reported to be adamant about resigning his post and letting someone from outside the family to take the reins and resurrect the party from the depths to which it has fallen. This has prompted Superstar Rajinikanth and DMK supremo M K Stalin to issue appeals to Rahul not to bite the bullet but face the challenges. And P. Chidambaram has joined in to say that if Rahul were to resign 'Congress workers may commit suicide'. No doubt this is clear admission that Kazhagam culture has all but subsumed the famed Congress culture.

Rahul got elected by his 'subjects' in 2004 and re-elected in 2009. Political pundits say that it was a huge blunder committed by Rahul, as he failed to gain adequate exposure and acquit himself as a responsible Cabinet minister. He was perceived as being disinterested, distant and not diligent, yet wanting to enjoy the trappings of power. The image stuck and cost him dearly, whenever he tried to get serious during elections.

Rahul just could not break through. He did not come through the ranks as others. He parachuted to his position. Indian voters were getting younger by the elections. Millennials were truly aghast at the family legacies, when they had to slog and slog to make a living. His is continuous losses, hurt his image. And he did nothing, by looking lost and forlorn, and not so keen to bend his back.

And then 2014 happened and Narendra Modi coasted to victory with a majority for BJP itself. And in the immediacy of general elections, in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand, Congress was led to submission with Rahul at the helm. And come Uttar Pradesh state elections, BJP trounced all comers. Rahul Gandhi was in a bind. He could make no headway until Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan happened in 2018.

The Lutyens' media and 'Khan Market gang', as Prime Minister Modi called them, were convinced that Rahul had turned the corner and there was a spring in his step with a pungent 'suit boot ki Sarkar' jibe which went viral. There was conviction in his voice and when Rafale deal happened, “Chowkidar Chor Hai” became his masthead to beat Modi with, Media darlings loved it and claimed “Modi's days as PM were numbered'.

Lutyens' print and electronic media loved Rahul for he was 'truly transformed to take on 56 inches and more'. And then when Rahul's dear sister Priyanka Vadra joined as secretary of GOP, the families' hangers on were overjoyed to declare that Rahul was Prime Minister in waiting. And then when DMK swore by his leadership as PM, and that man going around the world in 30 days, to strike alliances a.k.a Chandrababu Naidu - seconded it, Rahul Gandhi himself started dreaming dreams. He openly said 'May 23 would be goodbye dateline for Chowkidar Chor'. Rahul now convinced himself that it was time for a Gandhi scion to rescue the nation again from Modi's grip.

It was in such a scenario, built up by Lutyens' and Khan Market log and genuinely believed by the opposition dying to see Modi's back that May 23 turned out to be a shocker to Rahul. The exit polls were trashed as gossip and claims made that on May 23 naya Subha aeyaga. When the results proved worse than the exit polls and Congress reduced to 52- against the earlier 44- again reduced to less than the number required to have a leader of Opposition- Rahul did not know what hit him.

Typically, calls went out that he must pay a price for leading the party again to disaster zone. Of course, the nation wanted to know when he would resign taking moral responsibility, and not whether. Rumblings began from inside too, but in a muted manner, as no one can afford to be on the wrong side of the family.

Yet, Rahul seems to have decided that it was now time for him to act decisively. For too long, he had been the target of all the barbs, grievances, complaints and calumny too. The world was making it, as if he was solely responsible for the loss and if only he was a better leader, they could have trumped Modi/Shah, who were seen to be vulnerable on several counts like the economy, unemployment and farmers' distress - from media proclamations.

It is now Rahul's turn to tell them all, “OK, I have heard this nonsense ad nauseam. As if I have single handedly brought the party to ruin. And we in the Gandhi family are the sole and solitary cause for the debacle in 2014 and 2019 again. As if every other Congressman was working hard to win, and tripped only because of us. But for me and my family, Modi would have been sent packing. So we-me have to pay a price. Fine. I accept full and moral responsibility. I do not intend to be President any more. I am therefore adamant about resigning and my family is behind me, to let someone else, whoever he/she may be, to shoulder the responsibility and bring back the glory days to GOP”.

It is obvious our friend Rahul is disgusted, frustrated, not knowing what to do or how to go about. He must realise and accept that he is not cut out for the thrust and parry of electoral politics. He has always had a touch and go attitude - that is, touch base and go away on vacations. Only in the recent past, he was seen to be bending his back and putting his best, still not good enough. He is entitled to his frustration. Desperation too. Imagine Mr Rahul Gandhi, how Atalji and Advani would have felt in 1985, when BJP was reduced to just 2 seats. And see where they are today as Atalji presciently predicted.

Forget it. You are no Narendra Modi. Your GOP has no Amit Shah either. You are right. It is time for you to go. But with love, not hate. Family legacies, Dear Rahul, the new and aspirational India neither admires nor welcomes. Time for change. And change, dear Gandhis, has already come. Time to move on.

Whatever happens to the Congress? It has its footprints all over India. Who will keep it alive? Can India afford to let it go? Without the glue of the Gandhi family, will it remain intact? Questions without ready answers. But truth to tell, today's India has moved on, beyond such dynasties. We are younger and different. Time for families/dynasties to take note. Lest the parties would pay a huge price. BJP promised Congress Mukt Bharat. They have given it up now, as a desire. For, they may have realised that their dream is now in the safe and sure hands of the Gandhi family. Why bother anymore?

(Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)

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