Rahul Gandhi’s speech: Less substance, more spectacle

When Rahul Gandhi strode into Parliament today with sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in tow he made heads turn. The idea, was just that, to make heads turn. The Congress MP who otherwise tours villages as his grandfather Feroze Gandhi once did has been holding parleys with the PM and the Congress’ managers this past fortnight. But it took him 11 days to express concern about a 74 year old man’s health.

He took full advantage of zero hour to grab the spotlight. What he said wasn’t earth-shattering in any sense, even though he insisted on being the game changer. It represented a perspective, one of the many ideas floating within the ‘Congress’ which is now planning a counter-movement to undo the blunders made by the ‘government’ in the way it has handled the whole Lokpal issue and in particular, Anna’s anshan. I find it hard to believe in this case, that the party and the government aren’t the same thing and would like to believe that the noises that the Congress has now started making are just part of a face-saving and damage control exercise.

The truth is Rahul’s speech was nothing but a PR spectacle. Let’s just say if a less high-profile Congress MP had made the same point, his voice would have been drowned out by opposition MPs who have been reduced to sloganeers.

The speech was meant to communicate a larger point: who’s calling the shots in the party now that mum Sonia is away indefinitely. It was a culmination of Rahul’s arrival in the arena of high politics, starting with the Lokpal debate.

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