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Beware of the sucking sounds

india Updated: Sep 30, 2007 04:08 IST
Indrajit Hazra
Indrajit Hazra
Hindustan Times
Red Herring | Indrajit Hazra

''We wanted to tell everyone that if you want a war, we are ready for it.” No, that’s not Rahul Gandhi talking about his family’s role in dividing Pakistan in 1971. It’s that 26-year-old bloke Mahendra Singh Dhoni talking about his champion Twenty20 team.

“I am confident of myself but still humble enough to feel acutely embarrassed when all kinds of VIPs come for advice...I still haven’t gotten used to being on the Working Committee...Can you imagine me being an ‘elder statesman’?” No, that’s not Rahul Gandhi either. It’s his grandmom writing to a friend about her inclusion in the Congress Working Committee at the age of 38.

“What’s up doc?” Uh-uh. That could have been Rahul launching forth with a powerful powerpoint presentation to the Prime Minister about the incredible benefits that will come the country’s way if the number of districts under the rural employment guarantee scheme is doubled. But it’s not. It’s actually Bug Bunny’s catchphrase you can catch on Cartoon Network if you’re young and interested, Congressman or not.

As is my habit, every time a political party announces a new General Secretary, I take a spin around India Gate. I had started this practice in 2005, when on my birthday, Prakash Karat joined the ranks of non-spring chickens like Harkishen Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu as General Secretary of the CPI(M) Politburo. So two days after Rahul-baba was made General Secretary, I did my usual chakkar around the Gate. The idea of General Secretar-iness, as embodied by the Samjwadi Party’s Amar Singh or by the UN’s Ban Ki-moon (Secretary General, General Secretary, same to same) leaves me with gentle admiration. I usually have a bhel puri, read the words, “To the dead of the Indian armies who fell honoured in France and Flanders Mesopotamia and Persia East Africa Gallipoli and elsewhere in the near and the far-east...” on top of the monument and then return to my woodwork.

This time, however, I was halted by a display of posters all around the India Gate circle. They depicted the bountiful picture of Rahul Gandhi and the only-slightly-smaller-visage of Aman Arora, Secretary, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee. In case there was any potential for a misunderstanding snowballing into something ugly thanks to a silly radio jockey or a sillier newspaper columnist, it was written that Mr Arora was congratulating Rahul Gandhi for becoming the new Congress General Secretary. As if according to script, I suddenly heard a strange sucking sound. It probably was the man nearby finishing his bottle of Thums Up with a straw. But this was ‘Chanakya Puri’, the City of Intrigues. So I could never be sure.

Now I don’t know what they teach future General Secretaries at Rollins College in Florida, but someone should warn Rahul about strange sucking sounds. He may be used to these noises from party members, old, young and decrepit — who see him not so much as a man for the future, but as the man for their future. But with his Gen Sec-ness, he should now be doubly careful. Youth, I’m told by reliable sources very close to me, is naturally suspicious of sycophants (no, that’s not the symbol of the BSP). More kiss-his-bottomwallas will now be lining up at 12, Tughlak Road. And with the notion — no empirical evidence yet from my crack team of investigators yet — that Mama’s Boy is the conduit to Mama, there will be the usual suspects who will tempt him with usual Congress subtleties. Hopefully, the other young Congressmen who have got promoted won’t start suddenly treating him as Grown-Up Lord Fauntleroy.

Meanwhile, I could ask the new Congress General Secretary to convince the PM to lower the age limit for being eligible for the National Old-Age Pension Scheme from the projected 60 to 37 years of age. Oh, I’m sure he’ll manage to convince the young-at-heart Doc who lives at 7, Race Course Road — while I pick up a cool Rs 100-notes garland for not using the word ‘scion’ even once in this column.

Oh, dear. I just blew it, didn’t I?