Thursday, May 21, 2009


A couple of years back, there was a chat show on NDTV 24/7 about whether Indians are still obsessed with royalty. I don’t know whether Indians out there give a damn, but the select, educated, liberal and like-minded few who had been herded into the studio by the show host, along with a few ex-Maharajas and Nawabs, were overwhelmingly of the view that they indeed were.

Four decades ago, Indira Gandhi had taken away the pompous titles and privileges of hundreds of Indian princes and turned them into ordinary citizens like you and me in a free, democratic India. Ironically, they are being made royal again, not by their erstwhile subjects who have forgotten all about them, but by the new princes of India's free media, happy perhaps at being 'elevated' to a position where they can socially mingle with them as equals.

Nowhere is this 'worship' of royalty more visible than in the manner in which the media treat the new Royal Family of India and its Crown Prince. In fact the way some of the really big names in the business blatantly manufacture credit for Rahul Gandhi for anything good that happens to the Congress is sometimes so demeaning that one wonders whether there is anything called self respect left even outside of the Congress, where in any case it died decades ago. Conversely, if there is anything negative that points to him, if it cannot be deflected to the "aam aadmis" of the Congress, they just give it the royal ignore.

Remember that famous press conference before the election results were out where Rahul Gandhi almost brainlessly reached out to almost the entire opposition for support even if it meant ditching the existing allies of the Congress who were not expected to do well? It needs no imagination to figure out as to what would have happened had the verdict been like what everyone then thought it was going to be. In the event, the Congress got a fantastic and most unexpected victory. As a result, not only did the many unimaginable blunders that Rahul Gandhi committed in that conference get hidden, the usual spin doctors have managed to even show him in a light that even he would not have imagined when he went to bed on May 15, 2009.

A victory can hide all blemishes instantaneously. Till 8 AM on May 16, 2009, there were a whole lot of people who were convinced that Rahul Gandhi was not blessed with the kind of intellect that would get him a decent job in the open market, much less the chair of the PM. It was only his surname, which made 21st century liberals drool like 17th century subjects, that had got him this far, was the dominant view.

But, after two short hours, Rahul Gandhi was converted by the media into a genius and given almost all the credit for the great showing of the Congress party. Secretly, everyone knew that Rahul had little to do with the victory that surpassed their expectations. Had it been otherwise, by now, Dr Manmohan Singh, the real face of the Congress and its leader for the elections, would have 'gracefully' stepped aside. That is why this great chorus has started now to build Rahul up in such a manner that at an opportune moment, he occupies that throne of his which has eluded him till now.

Almost everyone in the media has joined the Rahul bandwagon. Vir Sanghvi, not surprisingly at all, speaks for his huge tribe of sycophants, when he says: "We are all hailing Rahul as a genius"! And what is the only one point that they have found to turn the frog magically into a prince? The decision of the Congress party to go it alone in UP.

Was that decision a stroke of genius or did it flow out of simple commonsense and arithmetic? The Congress wanted to contest 24 seats in alliance with the SP while the latter was willing to give it 17, based on its past performance in the previous Lok Sabha elections where the Congress got nine seats, and the Assembly elections where it did worse. I am no genius but even to a man of very ordinary intelligence like me it has been clear for over a year that only the unreliable SP would emerge stronger out of the alliance while the tally of the Congress would remain almost the same. Only a fool will strengthen a potential foe in such a manner. That is the straightforward part.

The second part is the myth that is being promoted about how Rahul has worked wonders with the party in UP, the state he specifically looks after organisationally, due to which the party's seat tally has jumped to 21. Seen in isolation, a more than 100% rise in the number of seats is undoubtedly a huge achievement. That is what they want you to focus on, so that Rahul can stand out and glow. No one is even whispering about CM Gehlot for achieving a much more spectacular performance in Rajasthan where the tally of the Congress has jumped from four to 20, a stupendous feat by any standards, and the best by the Congress anywhere. Hardly any one is also talking about the impressive gains made by the Congress in Kerala and MP, and elsewhere where the credit cannot be pinned on Rahul.

There is also little talk about the fact that rise in the vote share of the Congress in UP is almost the same as in neighbouring Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, while it much less than the huge gains made by the party in Delhi and Punjab. It is as if they don’t exist and that there has been a miracle in UP alone due to the genius of Rahul.

So excited and eager is the media to crown him that CNN-IBN has actually gone to the extent of asking viewers if Rahul was a better politician than his father, Rajiv Gandhi! Then there are those who say that Congress won 75 of 120 seats where Rahul campaigned to drive home the point that the revival of the Congress across the country is only due to him. Some want you to believe that Rahul's brainchild, the loan waiver scheme, became a winner overnight while others think it is his pet project, the NREGA, that miraculously brought in the voters who voted differently from the recent assembly election in many states, even though these programs were on even then. One has also started hearing about how his initiative to work with the youth has done the trick, and how his Aam Aadmi Ka Sipahi(AAKS) scheme has worked and how it will now reach out in all panchayats across the country. The list is not only getting longer but also more ridiculous. Some social scientists, believe it, have suddenly discovered that it is Rahul's "fair and lovely" effect that has helped get voters!

Rewind a bit. Just two years back, Rahul Gandhi was the star campaigner of the Congress which then too had fought the Assembly elections alone in UP. He had then campaigned vigorously in over a hundred carefully chosen constituencies where the Congress had a chance of winning. At the end of efforts that got saturated coverage and glowing tributes by sections of the media, the Congress got just 24/403 seats and even suffered a loss of vote share. The genius could hardly have been uncovered then. The same thing happened in the Assembly elections in Karnataka, Gujarat, MP, Punjab, Himachal etc where also the Congress was routed. Did you hear even a whisper against him anywhere in the media or a call to sack him? No, the blame was passed on to faceless state leaders, as always.

Don't you find it very odd that nobody in the media has questioned Rahul's basic intelligence and the almost complete and dangerous lack of understanding about terrorism that he showed in that famous press conference? He was not kidding when he said that "All we have to do is empower villagers. Then we can sit back and relax and we will destroy it in 15 minutes". This is not all. A few months back, he had said at another press conference that he wanted to "create thousands of Obamas running around in this country". Thousands of Obamas on an assembly line? Does he himself measure up to and understand what Obama represents, to talk like this? Does he remember that while Obama became the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, around the same time he himself made an anonymous exit from the university without completing his education, as per some reports? And, of course, other than talking of the youth because he is still not old, have you really heard him speak of anything really new and radically different from what his ancestors did and who, as per him, were the only Indian leaders who got everything right?

In 1980, ABBA sang "The winner takes it all; the loser's standing small". In 2009, till the Lok Sabha election results were clear, two hours into counting, Rahul Gandhi was being dismissed as another dud who was where he was only because of his surname. The media in fact were beginning to see that missing magical spark, spontanety and intelligence in Rahul's sister Priyanka, with some even proclaiming that she would be India's PM one day. She too obliged by saying "Never say never" to politics. Rahul had almost been written off by them.

Then it happened. The Congress won. And ever since then, the large army of obsequious and dishonest media personalities that had for long been frustrated because of failed efforts to project Rahul as India's "Great and Only Hope", has gone crazy trying to make the nation believe that the only winner of these elections is Rahul Gandhi whose genius has at very long last been discovered.

The loser, BJP, is standing small. But not alone. The real winner, Dr Manmohan Singh, is there too. The Crown Prince has taken it all.
Readers may also like to read:
1. Singh is the people's king
2. The Manmohan victory: time we got a President
3. Had the BJP won
4. President 'blessed' Obama, this is our moment
5. Understanding and defeating the ideology of terror
5. I love Rahul Gandhi - because nepotism rules :D MUST READ

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