(Suhel Seth is Managing Partner of Counselage: India's only strategic brand advisory.)
It is ironic: Rahul Gandhi is missed when he is actually missing.
When he is around, no one seems to care, so probably one reason for him having gone away is to perhaps be missed. But the truth of the matter is he is being missed in a delightful way. And the blokes in his party aren't helping matters either.
Bangkok is a haven for bachelors. Especially those who have nothing. So when someone told me Rahul has gone to Bangkok, I was not surprised. Bangkok is the city of Happy Endings too, and here please don't take assume sexual innuendos. It is a city where you can buy anything. Without being someone. There is no accountability, no piercing questions of a parliamentary nature, and what's more, no prying eyes. Bangkok gives you the anonymity that a TV studio in India will never give you.
Also Bangkok is a pilgrimage for both food and requisitioned love and let's hope Rahul gets enough of both.
Then there is the issue of Uttarakhand and Rahul being alone in some tent or that's what the papers tell us courtesy some lad called Jagdish Sharma. But then this is where the comedy of errors begins. Why on earth would someone make a case for leave of absence in a country like India, and that too during the Budget Session? Why on earth would that individual come across as a nervous school-boy who is hell-bent on missing the first day at school because he knows not what to expect? What kind of leader leaves his flock to fend for themselves just as they've emerged from a traumatic period (read Delhi elections). Why would a young man like Rahul Gandhi, who shows unsolicited aggression at the worst of times, behave like Arvind Kejriwal once did? Scoot to avoid the heat.
I have never understood Rahul Gandhi. And I am not alone. He must have enough reasons for his behaviour, but that behaviour is abnormal in the Indian context. On the one hand you have a Prime Minister who is in-your-face on a daily basis, and wears more than just his own name on his sleeves, and on the other, you have Rahul Gandhi, who is happy just folding his sleeves. It is almost as if you have a reluctant sulker running the Congress party with a distressed mother because she doesn't know what to do with her maverick son.
The Party needs to come clean on what Rahul is thinking because the Party always behaves like Rahul is the owner. When the owner is missing at the till, there is bound to be confusion and conjecture. And in this environment, the real agenda always gets hijacked. I will not ever say that the Congress is dead, but I will make the case that Rahul Gandhi is cancerous for the Congress. Or for that matter, for any movement that requires one to lead and instill confidence in the troops. He belongs more to The Dead Poet's Society than to the Grand Party. And it is not about where he is missing. It is only about why is he missing when he shouldn't be. The latter is also symbolic of Rahul's maturity and seriousness and in the present context he is more Wordsworth and less Nehru. More the Wanderer and less the Statesman.
Come back, Rahul. All is forgiven.
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