In his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell describes what life will be like under the rule of Big Brother.
“always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. …. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.“
Orwell based his book on nightmarish visions about the future of the world under Communist dictatorships, which were rising in the 1940s. The Congress party is not quite that. Rather, if you want a picture of the future under Congress, imagine a human face licking a boot – forever.
There is nothing quite like a Gandhi Dynasty surname to activate the “submission reflex” in circles of Lutyens’ Delhi. For at least 10 years now, journalists, academics and intellectuals have been talking about the supposed charisma, intelligence and political acumen of Priyanka Gandhi. Much of this felt like it was made up from thin air. Thus was born the myth of the “smarter Gandhi”.
It is impossible to know how much of this myth was cultivated by the Dynasty itself. And how much was cultivated by the same ecosystem journalists, academics and intellectuals anxious to obtain “insurance” against the failure of Rahul Gandhi?
But yesterday, the Congress appointed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as Congress General Secretary of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. For the mythmakers of Indian journalism, the object of their worship was suddenly before them, available for public veneration.
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And what a show they put on! Showering her with attributes: classy, smart, charismatic, aggressive, Congress’ Brahmastra and so on. Some wanted to know if this changes the game in Uttar Pradesh, paving the way for a Congress sweep. Others decided to go one up and ask if her entry will change the election across the country.
Some wanted to ask who the BJP will deploy to counter the influence of Priyanka Gandhi: will it be Smriti Irani? Or Yogi Adityanath? Or Amit Shah? Or PM Modi himself?
Others wanted to know which ‘card’ she will play: the victim card, the likeness to Indira card, the Brahmin card.
The only things Congress is playing are its Lutyens’ darbaris. Which is why the political launch of Priyanka Gandhi feels like a parody of Indian politics. Something like a comedy skit on a late-night show, where characters dress up as politicians for laughs.
How else do you explain the media falling all over the supposed “likeness to Indira Gandhi”? A likeness to someone famous as a ticket to political success? This does not even help in the film industry. They expect it to work in politics?
Are we supposed to take this seriously? Is this for real?
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As I said, this feels like a parody. Almost like the Dynasty is laughing in our faces, telling us that we as a nation will accept almost anybody as long as she bears their famous surname. Not so easy.
Last night, one prominent TV channel actually listed Priyanka’s “connect with women voters” as one of her many strengths. It is hard to see this as anything other than an insult to the intelligence of Indian women.
At best, this is funny. At worst, this is poking young India in the eye, telling us that we may have superpower aspirations, but they keep expecting us to submit to the same old zamindars.
Congress workers, nevertheless, will have an extra spring in their step. And we will have another reason to laugh at them. Actually, feel sorry for them. Every human life is unique, full of possibilities for achievement and advancement. How sad that actual people would find their lives at a point where the only light in their eyes is loyalty to a dynasty … and the heirs and successors of that dynasty their only hope.
You could try to say the same about Lutyens’ editors, academics and intellectuals, but at least those folks are doing well … or at least expecting to do well for their labours. You have to feel sorry for the Congress worker.
While this skit from the Congress Party may make waves in media circles, Indian politics will continue as usual. The best this can do for Congress is give Rahul ji a face-saving excuse to leave Amethi (which looks increasingly unwinnable for him) and scour the country for a safe seat somewhere else.