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Stooping to conquer

Can our leader's, for once, not rise above political differences to condemn a remark which degrades the political system, asks Vijaya Sharma in India Diary.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2005 13:17 IST

The weekend belonged to two Rahuls, both from two different worlds - one shone on the sporting horizon and the other on the political. Both brought in a fresh lease of life and shored up dipping hopes.

One is Rahul Dravid who once again justified the title that has been given to him - the Wall. He was cool, calm and displayed nerves of steel, standing rock-solid even as the Indian team was collapsing like rattling skittles hit by the Pak bowling attack in the fourth ODI between India and Pakistan played at Lahore.

The other Rahul is Rahul Gandhi - Sonia Gandhi's son and Priyanka Gandhi's elder brother. He has been announced as the Congress candidate from Amethi, a stronghold of the Gandhi family for decades and a seat from where Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have won with huge margins.

The announcement has come as a surprise for many as the masses and political experts were expecting Priyanka to be the first among the siblings to take the plunge and not the Harvard educated Economics student who has worked as a financial consultant in London for a while also. People say his cool and calm demeanour and his resemblance to Rajiv will earn him brownie points and Congressman Salman Khurshid has dismissed talk of him being a political greenhorn by saying each person has his first time and then moves on to becoming a huge success.

Remember, says the Congress party, the same things were said for Rajeev Gandhi that he he had no experience and the only qualification he had was being the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's son. Rajeev showed immense promise - a promise which was nipped in the bud by his horrendous and untimely demise. It remains to be seen whether this son who has risen will also shine.

The huge popularity of the siblings with the masses is what has caused BJP to announce, hours after Sonia's revelation that Rahul Gandhi would contest from Amethi, that Priyanka and Rahul cannot contest as they have foreign blood running in their veins. The party knows that their popularity could swing the votes in Congress favour in Uttar Pradesh, a very important constituency which sends the largest number of representatives to the Parliament, and has hence been targeting Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi from various platforms, from time to time.

The two are belived to be the prime planners for the Congress poll campaign and key deciders on how the party is to be projected in the media. It is said that it was their idea that the party should not aggressively project the fact that Rajiv Gandhi's name had been cleared in the Bofors case but should portray it in a dignified manner in the media. Hence, the quiet ads in the papers.

Rahul & Priyanka Gandhi in Pakistan celebrating India's first win in the ODI series against Pak

Rahul and Priyanka's trip to Pakistan reportedly is also a planned Congress strategy to win over Indian youth and draw attention to the Congress attempts to play peace with Pak as a direct challenge to the PM's peace overtures towards Pakistan. Rahul has been busy looking after the Rajiv Gandhi foundation and the Indira Gandhi Museum and also has a hand in polishing and pruning his mother's speeches.



Recently when he was in Kerala, there was much talk about his Colombian girlfriend Juvenita. Nothing concrete has been said about that relationship and for now, he is also India's most eligible bachelor.



He is a Masters in Economics from Harvard and has studied Development Economics at Trinity College Cambridge, with an engineering design course in software also in his kitty. He gave up his career abroad to help his mother Sonia Gandhi at home and in India, he has his own consultancy firm in Gurgaon besides being involved with an NGO Pratham which focuses on primary education for children.



Though Priyanka is said to be the one with a greater winnability factor with her aggressive pitch and is said to be more popular with the masses, the introduction of Rahul Gandhi is being seen as a winning move from the Congress and has sure enough, sent frissons of concern in the BJP.

They stoop to conquer
While the hype and hoopla associated with the BJP - its ostentatious India Shining campaign and the populist rath yatra by Advani - rolls on, the level to which some of its leaders have stooped is stunningly shocking.

Just last week, the BJP unit head in Uttar Pradesh Vinay Katiyar, at a rally railed at women in politics and said Gandhari (mother of the Kauravas from the epic Mahabharata) caused one war that ended her family and now when Sonia Gandhi has come to the fore, she has ended up finishing off her entire family. Shameful is a mild word to describe this statement.

Senior BJP party leaders such as Rajnath Singh, instead of accepting and apologising actually said: "Vinay Katiyar can never say such a thing," and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati dismissed it as "it is his (Katiyar's) agenda and I cannot comment on it."

Is this the party which recently fielded women candidates who won them important seats in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, is this the same party which goes on and on about Hindu values and culture and perhaps forgets that it is the very same culture which upholds respect and dignity of a woman.

Is the party so weak that it must stoop to personal attacks to win votes from the masses?

Is our politics so devoid of human values that no leader, for once, forgets political differences and stands up to condemn a remark which degrades the system?

Once in a while, the mask of humanity which some of our leaders wear slips and the true and frightenting face is revealed.

First Published: Mar 23, 2004 19:20 IST