Out of my mind: Memo for Rahul Gandhi

You could do the best thing for the Congress and Indian politics now. Quit. Take a lifelong sabbatical from politics. Get a life.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published:March 19, 2017 12:23 am
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Now is the hour to swallow that poisoned chalice your mother proffered to you some years ago. It is time to admit that in a family which has for five generations made sacrifices for the country, one more, final sacrifice is needed.

One was never sure. When you entered politics back in 2004, I, like many others, was thrilled. You were self aware of the anomaly of your position. Your inherited rather than earned entitlement to leadership was uncomfortable for you. But I am sure the adulation of the hundreds of followers and a doting family soothed your doubts. You meant well. You wished to reform the party. You wanted to introduce primaries for selection of Congress candidates. You even held some primaries, but never enough to change the old order.

Then you seemed to have lost interest in that idea. In politics, you need persistence to change the way things are done. We thought you would grasp the nettle of office. I expected you to be given a portfolio in the first UPA government to prepare you to take over as prime minister before the the election of 2014. We waited but nothing happened. The nomination of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s leading campaigner must have delighted you. It was such an easy open goal, you must have thought. Yet you did not lead from the front.

The shock of defeat galvanised you. You have spoken more often and landed one or two effective blows, such as suit boot ki sarkar. But let us face it: you do not actually like politics. You do it because Mother expects. We all grow up to fulfil our parents’ wishes for our future. You had no choice.

Now I think you will agree that your future in politics is bleak. Next time around, the Congress may not even get 44 seats. Even if it gets a few more, it will sit in the Opposition. You look bored sitting in the Lok Sabha. I do not blame you. Do you really want to be there past your 50, waiting for some miraculous defeat of Modi?

You could do the best thing for the Congress and Indian politics now. Quit. Take a lifelong sabbatical from politics. Get a life. You are young enough to be able to do things you really want to do. Right now you have to get away from Delhi and fly off somewhere secret to pursue what you enjoy. We do not know but we can guess. You went away for 50 days and more after the defeat of 2014. The defeat of 2017 is much more decisive. Do not offer yourself false comfort about Manipur or Goa.

Punjab was not your doing. But it offers an answer. If you stay away and let regional leadership flourish, the Congress may yet survive. It is hard to admit but your absence may be the cure the Congress needs. People will flatter you and tell you it was not your fault that the Congress bombed in UP. Don’t believe them. Take responsibility. Resign from any leadership post permanently. Resign from even the primary membership of the Congress. Get the entire family to come out with you.

Don’t worry about the Congress. It has leaders who will flourish if you absent yourself. Give it a chance. GO.

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