Age, said Bill Shakespeare, cannot wither nor custom stale her infinite variety about Cleopatra. Last week, it seemed that the same neat turn of phrase holds good for Opposition leader L.K. Advani. For no apparent reason, he seems to want to be seen as our Arnold Schwarzenegger. But in India, haven’t we always preferred age over youth? Wisdom and experience has always been the better option. Our Prime ministers or presidents, have always been chosen on the terms of their wisdom. So what gives, Mr lauh purush?
For a brief moment, we rejoiced in youth and celebrated the ascent of the 40-year-old Rajiv Gandhi. Then we had Narasimha Rao who became PM a week before his 70th birthday. He did his bit by having himself photographed regularly on an exercise bicycle. And Manmohan Singh isn’t exactly a stripling lad — although going by the size of pre-election cut-outs, the 38-year-old Rahul Gandhi seems the PM-in-waiting (operating word: waiting). So we may still see dear old LK doing the right ‘modern’ thing as he publicly pumps some iron and gets hurrahs from his ‘spoons’.
We guess it’s a good sign that Advani-ji wants to re-define our political discourse. Old may be gold, but the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate — if they don’t go down that achingly stale Ram mandir track again — may show us the way forward. Strongly.