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A troubled fortnight

Rahul Gandhi has been away from the scene, presumably from India, for 56 days. He returned on 16 April and television channels went delirious.

The rumor is that the Gandhi scion does not see eye to eye with mother Sonia on who should lead the Congress.  With the threat of the Congress closing shop looming large, it now needs a young, aggressive, transformational leader. India cannot afford to let the Congress die because that would leave us with the dangerous situation of having only one dominant party in national politics.  The AAP promised to replace the Congress, but sadly has been an enormous disappointment with its nasty infighting and wanton immaturity. From what it appears, Rajiv’s elder son is not cut for the long grind of dirty politics. His “half-Nehru, half-Italian lineage” may be give him his good looks, but Indian voters have come a long way from the days when charisma garnered votes. Today, action, not talk, gets you people to plumb for you.  We need to ask who can revive the Congress. That’s the matter of substance; not where Rahul went, with whom he spent the time and what he did during the long absence.

TV channels will do well to focus on substance rather than on the ephemeral.

Around the same time as the return of the crown prince, Kashmir was burning. Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, chose to release from the prison a number of under-trials and alleged militants.  The latest release, a character called Masrat Alam, assembled a surprisingly large crowd, spewed anti-India venom and hoisted the Pakistani flag. Earlier, the state mandated flying the J&K flag alongside the tricolour. While Mufti has the right to experiment on how to solve the vexed Kashmir issue, he must have a Plan C. Surely, you cannot let pro-Pakistan slogan rent the national air. To say, for instance, that a Pakistan victory in cricket does see such slogans and hoisting of the green flag, is to miss entirely the point. Channels have gone hammer and tongs at the Mufti, without offering him a solution and have been super soft on the BJP, which is equally culpable.

All this was preceded by the nation’s newest loose canon, Gen. V K Singh going bananas, first on Twitter and then before the mike. He landed up at the Pakistan day celebrations, evidently on the diktat of Narendra Modi and when the media lampooned him for supping with the enemy, he spoke of ‘duty’ and ‘disgust.’ When ‘disgust’ hit the roof, he claimed that the comment was directed at the Press. Singh undoubtedly felt that all of us are wet behind our ears.  Later, he did exemplary work in evacuating Indians from Yemen, but quickly botched it by joking about the operation calling it less exciting than the Pakistan day celebration. Worse still, the following day he called the media presstitutes (bikau as in sold-out). The phonetic similarity with the oldest profession was separately stressed, lest the media missed out on it.  The media screamed and ranted at him while they should have left it alone and ignored him. Some people just look for public attention and the former General is one.

In the meanwhile, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, answering to the name M Katju was busy making an ass of himself. I agree these are sharp words, but M Katju has over the year been calling people names and very recently called Mahatma Gandhi a “cunning rascal.”  Yes, the man, now sitting in the US, used his blog and his Twitter handle to call the apostle of peace a “cunning rascal” and a “British agent.”  What have we reduced our democracy to?  Should we allow our national icons to be sullied?

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