One common lament against the “future former prime minister of India” (as opposed to the “former future prime minister of India“) is that Rahul Gandhi‘s views on the pressing issues of the day—mining, Maoism, price rise, land acquisition, etc—are not known, except to himself and (probably) his mother’s inner voice.
Yesterday’s rally in Orissa, 48 hours after environment minister Jairam Ramesh rejected Vedanta’s bauxite mining project in the Niyamgiri hills, is remarkable for two reasons. One is the magisterial phraseology that provides proof, full and final, that UPA ministers are there to do his bidding, although there are 204 Congress MPs besides him.
“Two years ago you had come to me saying the Niyamgiri hill is your god. I told you I would be your sipahi (soldier) in Delhi. I am happy that I have helped you in whatever way I could. What is important is that your voice was heard without violence,” he told the party-sponsored rally.
Implicit in the choice of words is the imprint of an arch feudal, who otherwise bemoans the easy ride he has got in politics. The tone is one of, “I can get it done if I want to; they will do what I tell them to do.” Implicit also is the entitlement to power without the responsibility.
The other reason Rahul Gandhi’s speech is remarkable is because it provides proof, full and final, that while he may belong to the Nehru-Gandhi clan, the literary flourish of his great-grandfather so eludes him that all he can do, it seems, is to weave the same us-versus-them fiction about India again.
“There are two Indias—ameeron ki Hindustan (India of the rich) whose voices reach everywhere , and garibon ka Hindustan (India of the poor) whose voices are seldom heard,” he roared in the two-dimensional monotone that always draws applause from the cheap stands.
Remarkable concern for the downtrodden, you might say for one born with a silver spoon, spinning around in SUVs, and spending late nights at Smoke House Grill.
Remarkable till you realise this is exactly what he had said in July in Kanker, Chhatisgarh:
“There are two parts of India. One part is the part you see in urban areas, growing very fast. There is another part of India, a forgotten part of India, and tribals, Adivas and Dalits are part of it.”
Which is exactly what he had said in Ranchi in October last year:
“Two Indias have been created. One India is yours and my India, the India of basic amenities and opportunity… the other is of poverty-stricken villages where opportunities are very rare.”
Which is exactly what he had said in Calcutta in April last year:
“It angers me when I think that there are people who have more money than anyone else in the world. And there are people who don’t have food.”
Which is exactly what he had said in the budget debate in Parliament in 2008-09:
“There are two distinct voices among India’s people today. The louder of these voices comes from an India that is empowered… the other voice is yet to be empowered. The two Indias are fundamentally inseparable.”
Which is exactly what he will say in god knows where, oblivious of the role his father, grand-mother and great-grandfather may have played in creating and perpetuating the India versus Bharat myth.
At which point, someone should gently tap the not-so-young man on his shoulder and remind him of what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru once said. That everything you say about India—including the existence of two Indias in India—is true.
And so is its opposite.
Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu