On a whim, I decided to ask Rahul Gandhi last week what he would do if he became Prime Minister one day. “I really don’t know what to say. I don’t really know the situation enough to say. I would probably try to stop the fighting between Pakistan and India in some way although I don’t know how! Sorry if I was not much help.”
Well, that was a pleasant surprise. I had expected some affected dawdling topped with a nifty slogan. Instead I got an answer that was as honest and refreshing as a deodorant sprayed inside a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar sanctioned spa in Sweden. Frankly, if this chap ever stands for election, he has my vote. Considering that Rahul is 16 and will graduate in two years’ time from the John Lyon School in London (very close to Harrow School from where India’s first Prime Minister passed out), I would track this lad’s career closely.
But then, I wasn’t unimpressed with what Rahul Gandhi, marketing manager of Ahmedabad biotech firm Trivitron Diagnostics, also had to tell me — so what if he was a bit convoluted. “What I will do is just be with the people of India, and cause for what I am there. Other thing I will do (in action), not talk like politicians (not only in speech).” Er, yes, straight from the heart if not straightforward. No need for Rahul to wait for British Foreign Minister to hang out in the hovels. He’s going to be “with the people of India” even if that means the media’s not going to be around for those photo-ops.
I even liked what Delhi Public School International alumnus and lawyer Rahul Gandhi had to say (although I’m not quite sure whether he wants to be known as 28 or 23 years old): “I would see myself in the mirror every morning and ask myself, ‘Am I really worth it?’ As I always say, people do what they believe in. It is convenient and then [they] repent.” Okay, slightly creepy and Bret Easton Ellis-ish there. But at least I know what this Rahul Gandhi — like the others I met on Facebook — has on his mind.
As for that Rahul Gandhi, you know, the brother of that girl who’ll be relieved if he gets married so that she can get on with her life instead of dropping by to do sisterly chores (pick up his socks? Send him newspaper clippings? Give him some style tips?), I don’t know anything about him. Sure, we keep seeing him on telly and reading his sentences in the papers. But every time, he’s addressing a crowd or an audience or a posse of journos. There’s not been a single one-on-one interview I can recall with that Rahul Gandhi — and I’m not going to count those three-minute ‘exclusive’ interviews that have been conducted in between election campaign pit-stops.
The one interview that he may have given was to Tehelka in September 2005. But after it had him saying “I could have been [the Prime Minister] at the age of 25 if I wanted to. But I decided I wouldn’t do things in that fashion,” the Congress went into an overdrive to drive home the point that that Rahul Gandhi had not given any interview to Tehelka at all and that the write-up “projected as an interview... arose from a casual conversation”.
There’s a protective ring thrown around that Rahul Gandhi as if he’s the Queen of England in Noor Jahan’s zenana. The press has either been too awestruck by the idea of having a sit-down chit-chat with him, or the Congress mindguards just won’t allow something as crass as questions reaching the Sweet Prince’s ears from across a table. Or maybe it’s both. The ‘Please Do Not Disturb’ sign continues to hang outside the door inside which the love that dares not speak its name lies in Kung fu Panda repose.
Considering that no one — not even the two finest interviewers who share space on this very page — has managed to interview that Rahul Gandhi, I wonder whether he’s got anything to say apart from the usual boring bits for conspicuous consumption. Maybe, he’s more impressive being quiet than if he talks like the three of the 324 more articulate Rahul Gandhis on Facebook.
By the way, do you think, like I do, that that Rahul Gandhi and the godzillion copies-selling writer Chetan Bhagat are one person? Let me ask him. Chetan that is.