The last few years of UPA-II were detrimental both for the government as well as the organisation of the Congress. The Heads of both institutions, the government as well as the Congress, were literally ridiculed. In politics, you are likely to be loved or hated in extreme measures, but to be ridiculed for a substantial span of time by a substantially large segment of the population is something no politician can afford. That's were Rahul Gandhi delivered a beating for Manmohan Singh, who was ridiculed for the fact that despite being an economist of repute, he meekly surrendered to 10 Janpath (the home of Rahul's mother, Sonia Gandhi).
Rahul championed the brand of episodic political somersaults. Rahul's way of politics can be aptly called "Scripted Politics" - as if it were a play and the actor played his role as per a written script, then got disinterested and reverted to his original self. This the Congress called "Private Vacations". Now that the rejuvenated actor is back home, he does perform his antics with some vigor - but till the next phase of boredom sets in. So today's Rahul is the "Rahul between vacations".
Over the course of time, what became clear was that Rahul and responsibility are divorced concepts. For reasons best known to him, Rahul always shrugged off responsibility. It took a lot of cajoling to bring him to the Congress organisational gamut. He never took up any portfolio in Manmohan Singh's cabinet to showcase his penchant or putative ability for doing things differently. He never took any issue which he raised to logical conclusion. From Kalavati to Bhatta Parsol, from managing the UP assembly elections to utterances like "Nonsense Ordinance", most of Rahul's performances earned him the reputation of a "Fly-by-Night" politician.
A member of a Parliament who, till recently, had only spoken thrice in 11 years, whose attendance in Parliament was abysmally low, whose performance in the organisation left murmurs of discontent within his own party men - yet, Rahul is still called a politician and raging debates are held on the possible impact of his return only because of the fact that some are still suffering from a Dynasty Hangover. No other politician would have been given these many chances to prove oneself after hitting repeated disasters. Not even in the Congress, which has handed over an empty field to Rahul Gandhi for net practice.
Politics can never be a "Part Time Job". It's an All or None Profession. There is no "At My Convenience" in politics. You have to be there when you are needed the most. When unseasonal and unfortunate hail storms were destroying acres of crops, Rahul was vacationing. He returned per his convenience to address a rally of farmers in Delhi. When catastrophe hit Uttarakhand two years back, Rahul was vacationing. He returned per his convenience to flag off the relief materials. This is what makes Rahul a Reluctant and Part-Time Politician.
After rubbishing Social Media for all these years, RaGa has been finally forced to join Twitter. It just exposes that he lacks the politician's must-have ability of foresight. Sadly, Rahul could not foresee and predict the importance of the Social Media as many others could. This inability to do the right things at the right time is what he has repeatedly displayed.
The over-enthusiasm displayed by Rahul after his return has earned him the tag of a "Rent-a-cause" politician. Rahul's return at best has evoked a sense of temporally well-being in the Congress which had developed cold sweat thinking of a Congress sans the Gandhi family. It has definitely gifted some masala for prime time TV debates, which were otherwise becoming boring without any story of scam and scamsters in the first year of the BJP governance.
Rahul should remain worried about the point he is trying to prove, not to the nation or the government, but to the Congress - that contrary to what most of you think, I am still in the running for Congress President. As far as the nation is concerned, we all are aware that the next vacation is fast approaching - may be beginning from 19th June, for Rahul has hardly ever celebrated his birthday at his Home. Where ever... Happy Birthday in advance!
(Sambit Patra is national spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a renowned surgeon.)
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