So Rahul Gandhi has delivered his speech in Parliament, followed by a dramatic gesture of embracing the Prime Minister and culminating in a triumphant wink at fellow Dynast Jyotiraditya Scindia.
And as usual, the Pidi gallery burst into choreographed praise following his speech.
And here is a compilation by Rishi Bagree
पागलों का नारा है, पप्पू हमारा है pic.twitter.com/UlUk326eK3
— Rishi Bagree ?? (@rishibagree) July 20, 2018
We already knew that the media would be doing ‘overtime’ tonight. ‘Gaane bajaane wale,’ like the PM recently remarked.
And just like that, today’s speech gets added to the ever-thickening file of ‘Rahul Gandhi’s growing up’ moments. The ecosystem has been collecting pictures for that scrapbook right since 2004. They haven’t scrapped their hopes yet.
Their alacrity, their desire to see their favourite Rahul make a mark, no matter how small, against Narendra Modi keeps them awake all night. This constant mental torture of seeing their boy try and fail leads them to see false dawns everywhere.
The problem goes deeper. You see, the secular ecosystem fails every time to understand the *real* reason that their Rahul baba isn’t able to connect with people. They are convinced that Modi has cast some kind of magic spell on the country with his speeches … and if only Rahul can break that spell, or just prick it in some way, he will win.
And so it is that every time Rahul Gandhi, now pushing full 50 years of age, delivers a speech, they come rushing out of their homes, to their windows and rooftops, beating drums, blowing conches, announcing the arrival of their messiah. Sonia’s son who will be their king and save them all.
They don’t realize what ordinary people feel when they see this pathetic spectacle.
In India, middle-class children grow up with the constant threat that their lives might amount to nothing unless they work their tails off. By the time the child is 12 or 13, they are saddled with the fear of board exams and the crushing competition for a seat in a half-decent college. Childhood is over by the time the kid turns 13. And that’s speaking of the relatively privileged kids, who have middle-class parents who can afford to send them to decent schools. Literally millions of other children grow up in desperate poverty, not sure of meals, saddled with the responsibility of contributing to the family income as soon as possible.
So, people in India learn to fight. For a school, for a college, for a job, even a seat in a local train. There isn’t much time to mature, even if you are just 12 years old. You either get with the program or get left behind. Other ambitious kids are rearing to take your place. At least a million of them.
And then, guess what? They see this rich kid who is pushing 50 years of age and *still* enjoying a childhood. And what is worse, he gets banner headlines full of credit each time he manages to do something without making an absolute fool of himself. Every single time, Rahul Gandhi gets 100/100 for effort.
If he does a little worse than last time, they gather to console him and praise him for effort. Remember these tweets when Rahul Gandhi ended up calling the PM a ‘khoon ka dalal’ in the aftermath?
And should he happen to do a little better than last time, it is a national celebration in TV studios.
Like I said, Rahul always gets 100/100 for effort. But go ask an ordinary man or woman when was the last time they got 100/100 ‘for effort’? When they were kids, did their mummy or daddy give them credit merely for trying when they brought home their report card? Does the IIT or medical entrance exam give points merely for trying? Now that they are all grown up, does their boss give them points for trying? Or are they judged on their performance and often very harshly so? Can they get decades of miserable performance reviews and still keep their job?
This is why Rahul Gandhi grates on the conscience of the people. Not because his speech giving skills are not as good as Narendra Modi’s.
And then Rahul Gandhi sits in some prestigious foreign university, spitting on the faces of millions of Indians, laughing and joking about how “India runs on Dynasty.”
That’s Rahul at U C Berkeley, flaunting his privileged birth. Imagine how that sounds to a student in his earlier twenties who has worked hard his whole life just to have a chance to set foot on U C Berkeley campus.
Also, imagine how these words sound to a poor labourer who is borrowing lakhs of rupees at an insane interest rate for a chance to go somewhere in the Middle East and work 18 hours a day in near slave-like conditions. All for a chance to slightly improve the life of his family.
This is why India does not connect with Rahul Gandhi. It has nothing to do with his speeches. So Rahul makes gaffes while speaking. We all do. Even Modi does. But it is always Rahul’s gaffes that go viral every single time. It’s never about a slip of tongue. It is about people expressing their bitterness at a man who has had every possible opportunity in his life but has done nothing with it. And a man who, at nearly 50 years of age, is demanding credit for “trying harder.”
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.