|MY MOTHER TOLD ME... Rahul Gandhi with Sonia Gandhi in Bhutan when both were much younger than they are today. On Thursday, Rahul revealed how the young politician’s education under his mother is still continuing
New Delhi, Oct. 3: His father lowered the legitimate Indian voting age to 18. But fairly more than twice the older, Congress vice-president and prospective arbiter of national destiny, Rahul Gandhi, claimed the right today to be “young” and, therefore, naturally subject to parental reprimand and correction.
“My mother told me the words I used were wrong,” Rahul told journalists at the start of a two-day tour of the hot adversary territory of Gujarat today. “In hindsight, maybe the words I used were strong but the sentiment was not wrong. I am young.…”
“Mummy!” is probably the sense that should ring out loudest from the Congress inheritor’s cry. Mummy, if not for your rap on my knuckles, I would have railroaded into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his elected cabinet without apology.
Rahul Gandhi is beginning to achieve probably the converse of what he intends through his effort to send out word he is responding to democratic sentiment.
It is a little ironical he seemed to plead his case when he had just used his famous name to hector the government into submitting to his sudden realisation that the ordinance on tainted politicians stood on the wrong side of extant public opinion.
“I have a right to voice my opinion,” Rahul humbly submitted. “A large part of the Congress party wanted it, why am I being penalised for raising my voice on something that was wrong? Was I wrong? I spoke my mind on the issue, it is amazing to see the reactions to it. I am flabbergasted.”
It must be lost on very few that the luxury to raise their voice in the Congress belongs to so few they make a minority of fingers on a palm.
Rahul also sought to suggest that the party had no inkling of what he was about to do last Friday. Rahul said he had called Ajay Maken, the Congress spokesperson, and asked him what he was doing. “He told me he was defending the ordinance. I told him ‘I will do that job for you’,” Rahul said.
What Rahul has achieved with one fleeting fit of impetuosity at the Press Club of India is this: trigger hyperactive action in a government that had so far taken the charge of paralysis in its stride.
It is unlikely anybody else in the UPA, other than “Mummy”, who was clearly disapproving of Rahul’s chosen style, could have carried off such a feat.
Sonia Gandhi, for the record, has had her share of differences with the government she has played regent to for the last decade, but never once has she found occasion fit enough to throw a public fit as her son chose to, or could afford to get away with.
When Sonia had reservations about the slow pace of acceptance a slew of NAC-advised social welfare measures found with the Manmohan Singh dispensation, she chose a more muted and patient tack to push her case.
But she may well have expected such an outburst from her appointed heir.
The Nehru-Gandhis have not made a name for themselves as deferential democrats; they have, on the contrary, often conducted their affairs as possessed of divine right.
Rahul’s iconic great-grandfather was known to publicly admonish unpalatable entreaty. He once banished a delegation from Phulpur, his Lok Sabha constituency near Allahabad, telling them he was the Prime Minister of India, not just another of 500-odd Lok Sabha members mandated to nurse a woebegotten east Uttar Pradesh constituency.
Grandmother Indira’s carriage was altogether more imperious, such that wreaked upon India the singular memory of the Emergency, such that her minions came to publicly equate India with Indira.
Father Rajiv sacked a foreign secretary at a media conference broadcast live.
Uncle Sanjay, before his untimely and tragic death, did worse than impose the five-point programme, medical proscription of the right to parenthood was part of which. He is known to have, in one fit of rage, slapped his mother across the dinner table over an argument.
Rahul is infinitely more well brought up; he has pleaded guilt to Mummy’s morality.