Indrajit Hazra may be a journalist by profession, but his book The Bioscope Man confirms what others have suspected for long - that he needs a day job. Currently a Consultant Editor of Hindustan Times, he writes the fortnightly music column Rock'n'Roll Circus and the sometimes satirical, sometimes not satirical at all Sunday column Red Herring. When no one's looking, he writes in other publications too.
The Coming Of The Dimpled One
It is significantly easier to prove the existence of god than to prove that the big guy in the sky doesn’t exist. The same reasoning holds true for Rahul Gandhi and his “imminent” prime ministership. It’s tough to prove that he will become the 14th prime minister of India — even if the UPA returns to power after the general elections. But it’s pretty much impossible to prove that he won’t become PM. One day.
The dice, as even Rahul-agnostics know, are heavily loaded in favour of the 42-year-old young at heart Congress leader. And they’re loaded this way not only because Congressmen would rather commit seppuku than even consider the thought of Rahul living this life without becoming prime minister, but also because the media can’t get the man off their mind. Congress adoration of the dauphin is part of every Congressman’s job description. But the media’s crush on Rahul?
Take the coverage of the latest Cabinet and ministerial reshuffle. The ever-reliant Indian Express told its readers, “While Rahul Gandhi did play a key role in Sunday’s reshuffle, indicated by the promotion of many young Ministers of State, the Congress general secretary took care to ensure that the message that went out was that performance rather than proximity to him counted above all else”.
The obviousness of Rahul Gandhi playing a “key role” wasn’t very clear to silly me. If a large amount of younger blood was finally brought into the government from the blood bank, perhaps “old” Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi could have had the “key role”? Rahul’s camaraderie with the ever-youthful Jitendra Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot is the reasoning behind the belief that they are “his men” pushed to the frontlines. And I’m not saying that this may not be the case. But why the abundance of weasel words then?
“Rahul <was also said> to have played a key role in the induction of Ranee Narah (MoS, Tribal Affairs), an avid cricketer and former Assam Youth Congress president, East Arunachal MP Ninong Ering (MoS, Minority Affairs), and Lalchand Kataria of Rajasthan (MoS, Defence). Former MoS, External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor’s comeback is also <attributed> to his <association> with Rahul”, the IE conjectures with determination. “Was also said”? Who also said this? “Attributed to his association”? Who made this attribution? What association between the older and side-burned Tharoor and the younger and dimpled Rahul are we talking about here?
And just when I’m behaving like a pouting teen about why these conjectures are left hanging in the air, there’s this rather strange comforting quote, “My understanding is that he does not want to send out the message that anybody who works with him automatically gets entitled to ministries and party tickets”. Whose understanding are we reading about here? That of “a close aide of Rahul”, the report says. If he was named, would he have been shamed?
India Today had sounded out the matter of this being a Rahul Gandhi-engineered reshuffle a day before when it stated, “Sources said the Gandhi scion, who met the Prime Minister twice last week, had made a strong pitch for a youthful face of government post the reshuffle”. Going by this clincher, Manmohan Singh finally crumpled and told a table-thumping Rahul, “Okay, baba, okay”.
But if The Indian Express and India Today asked us to believe, The Times of India demanded we take a leap of faith with their report on the Sunday reshuffle. It “carries the first unmistakable stamp of Rahul Gandhi’s ascendancy in the Congress party”, said the report. Proceeding to explain that “the Congress’s ‘younger set’, championed by Rahul has got a leg up” and “while the younger set didn’t enter politics because of the Congress scion [will someone please ban the word ‘scion’?], the clear focus on them in this reshuffle is being widely ascribed to Rahul’s growing involvement in government affairs. According to sources [here we go again], this was the first time that Rahul cast aside his <aloofness> to discuss the ministerial team with the Prime Minister”.
The sub-text running like the Saraswati at Prayag is unmistakable. It’s not that Rahul Gandhi’s role in the latest Cabinet reshuffle was obvious to see. It’s that the media, pretty much across the board, has concluded that Rahul is the Force and that they love this superhero boy-man no matter what the hustings say.
Once again, I’m not saying that Rahul wasn’t the person behind the ministerial reshuffle. It’s just that by reading and watching the media, I have no clue how he may have proceeded to do it. And be sure to be told to take it for granted that tomorrow, if not tomorrow then day after, and if not day after then the next day, Rahul Gandhi will be the prime minister of India. If I was Rahul, I would just get it done once and for all, even if it’s for a few months, and ensure that the media’s delight in foreplay reaches a climax accompanied by a barrage of “Our paper/magazine/channel told you so”.