What is it about poor old Rahul baba? The Nehru-Gandhi scion continues to make front page news and serially takes Twitter by storm - and for all the wrong reasons. He managed to inspire the Congress rank and file with a key speech at a party meeting in 2013, but even to this day, "This morning I got up at night" is all that social media remembers from the event.
He has probably given as many political speeches as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some novel and some sincere, but the citizens of India only remember his gaffes. And it has happened yet again.
|Congress VP Rahul Gandhi at Deoria. Photo credit: ANI|
India's grand old party was supposed to hit the comeback trail after the royal plastering that the BJP received in the Delhi and Bihar Assembly polls in 2015. The 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls promise tremendously high stakes for the Congress, BJP and the Third Front.
The Congress, on its part, has laid all its cards on the table to capture the prized state, by roping in party president Sonia (hit by an injury though) Brahmin CM candidate Sheila Dixit, dark horse Priyanka Vadra and cyber poll whiz Prashant Kishor. And, of course, clown (sorry crown) prince Rahul Gandhi.
It was supposed to be a spectacular launch. A novel rally. An ingenious idea, come to think of it.
A khaat (wooden cot) rally in UP's Deoria that would resonate with the average UP wallah. A "Khaat pe charcha" to counter Modi's "Chai pe charcha". A khaat sabha in 2016 to capture the Lok Sabha in 2019.
Would Pappu emerge as the king of the khaats?
But then it all (predictably) fell apart in the end. The moment the rally ended, there was total chaos as nearly 2,000 beds were up for the grabs and in the melee that followed all the khaats were fought over and taken home by hordes who seemed more interested in the freebies than the actual event or the Congress' fortunes.
The khaats made their way out on cycles, motorbikes, some even ferried them over their heads. They were plundered in ones and twos.
Twitter couldn't get enough of the #Khaat trends and #ReplaceMovieNameswithKhaat raced to the top.
My Name Is Khaat, Khaatiyo Ka Khiladi, Khaat Na Milegi Dobaara, Khaat Hai Ki Maanta Nahi, No Khaat for Old Men, Khaat Of The Year, Khaat Hum Le Jaayenge, Andheri Raat MainKhaat Tere Haath Main, Khaat Masti, Khaat Liya To Darna Kya, Udta Khaat…
Twitterverse went berserk and now nobody really cares what the grand strategy of Pappu-Kishor-Congress is or was. The sublime political Game of Khaats turned into a Comedy Nights With Khaats.
For the record, farm debt waivers, high power tariffs in Uttar Pradesh and the importance of Minimum Support Price (MSP) of farm commodities were on the grand Pappu agenda.
Snafu (Situation normal, all fouled up), however, is the norm for Pappu now.
But this was just the beginning. He is supposed to cover 2500km in the state and conduct endless rallies. How will the Congress VP manage that? Will he continue with his hilarious khaats or roll back and try something else?
How is he going to cope with the heat and dust of Uttar Pradesh? Short hair. White kurta. Stubble. Swagger. SUVs. That seems to be the uniform for every rally. The style was fleshed out ages ago, but the substance continues to be thin.
The khaat start was supposed to be rejuvenating and recharging for the party, but it is already stale and tiring. "History repeats itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce" goes the worn-out cliché. If 2014 was the tragedy, then in 2019 a farce looms.
The Hindi idiom "Khatiya khadi karna" loosely translates to putting someone through trouble or misery. Alas! The Congress and its most promising face, Rahul Gandhi, bore the brunt of the phrase, instead of the Opposition!