This, ladies & gentlemen, is a classic photo-op

On the 139th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi (no relative) lends a hand to promote the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme at Pinjra village in Rajasthan on Thursday.

But the devi is in the details. The girl in front carries an overflowing bandli of stones on her head; a chore she undertakes several times a day, every day; Mr G shoulders a little mud in a plastic basin. The girl walks bare foot on hard earth; Mr G prince wears sneakers (not Lotto). The girl, barely in her twenties, is already bent double, Mr G is ramrod straight. Etcetera.

All the wailing about the current breed of politicians boils down to this: The real Mr G was willing to get his hands dirty to be the change he wanted to see. He didn’t walk the first few yards towards Dandi and then ask his followers to take the march to its logical end. The pretenders announce “pack up” once the pop of the flashbulbs has died down.

Photograph: courtesy Press Trust of India via The Hindu