Posts Tagged ‘Sitaram Kesri’


When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and the hotly debated topic was who could now lead the country in his absence, Sitaram Kesri, then the faithful Gandhi family retainer, and Congress president, insisted that Sonia Gandhi should take over as prime minister. I remember watching that press conference which he addressed where he anointed her as future prime minister.

A journalist asked him “Can you tell me how qualified she is to lead the country?” Yes, in those days some journalists still asked such blunt questions. Kesri replied that Sonia was qualified to lead a nearly billion strong country because she was constantly by Rajiv’s side when he travelled around the country! The journalist shot back “Then why don’t you make his peon the prime minister, since he also travelled with Rajiv.”

Kesri first looked completely pained by the question and then in a voice choking with (obviously faked) emotion made some comment about being “shocked and saddened” by the question and then asked how Sonia could be compared with a peon. But I think all those present there, and the millions watching on telly got the message loud and clear. She simply wasn’t qualified. That is where my problem with Rahul and not so much Sonia lies.

Rahul Gandhi has been in politics ever since he was old enough to understand it. He was a kid when his father’s mangled body was brought back in a casket from Sriperumbudur. I don’t think any Indian had anything but sympathy for the boy. Our hearts went out to him. He may not have understood the political decisions of his father’s government as a child, but surely he knew them by the time he was old enough to understand politics. He became a Lok Sabha MP in 2004 and could easily have walked into the government as a junior minister in any ministry of his choice, if he wanted to. But he claimed that he wanted to serve the people “from the outside” – which to me is a lot of bullshit. Has he really succeeded in doing that in eight years?

Instead of entering the government, Rahul has sat on the periphery and done nothing, even for his own constituency. In the 2012 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, for which he, his mother and his sister campaigned extensively, the Congress won 28 seats. So much for political lineage and charisma! And the Congress lost in nine of the ten seats in the family strongholds of Amethi, Sultanpur and Rae Bareli.

So what Rahul basically has been doing now, is what in the Army is called “shoot and scoot”. Make some cracks about his own government’s policies, blast the opposition and then scurry back in his hole. Then he emerges a few days later, again makes a few bizarre claims and scurries back into his hole. And he has been doing that in abundance lately. Of course, his supporters will justify anything. If he said he could ensure that every Indian would be able to walk on water if his party was returned to power, they might justify that too!!

As for Sonia herself, the whole farce conducted about the “Italian woman as Indian PM” when she announced her plan to lead the government was orchestrated by politicians who saw the only chance they had, of taking a shot at the top post, fading. It’s funny, isn’t it, that we cheer when an African-American becomes the President of the USA, revel in the appointments of people of Indian origin who become Lords, ministers or even prime ministers in another country, or an Indian American who becomes Miss America, but get uptight when it comes to an Italian, who has lived in India since her marriage to an Indian, becoming prime minister.

In all fairness to Sonia, maybe, just maybe, if she had contested an election, been in government and then taken over as prime minister after her husband’s death, we might have come to see what the lady was really made of. Responsibility with authority might have done her a world of good, unlike now where she sits on the outside and decides government policy or conducts an occasional farce on governance that fools no one. The usual one is the rise in fuel prices where she steps in and ‘forces’ the government to reduce it. The Congress party then cobbles up a motley crowd outside her residence chanting out their support for her! I guess people have seen through that ruse because it hasn’t happened in a while.

While I do make wisecracks about the Italian mafia, I am not too bothered with her Italian origins. She is as good an Indian as the next one. All the talk of her not giving up her Italian passport because she never believed in being Indian is so much sawdust. I mean, Indians living abroad don’t give up their Indian passports do they? They very often hold dual citizenship. So what’s wrong with Sonia holding dual citizenship? And anyway, I am sure the people of this country would have decided in one term whether she was capable of running the country.

So coming back to Rahul Gandhi and his loyal band of supporters, both inside government and on the streets, what they really need is not new leader. They need a lollipop, because all they are good at is sucking up.

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