Pictures do tell a lot more than mere words. And this one does too. After a brief statement to the press on March 6 after the UP loss Rahul Gandhi walked away with his sister. So the Sarees are gone, jeans are back. Don’t have to deal with the beggars for a while. I wonder if anyone will interview Priyanka Vadra in the near future and ask her a question about one of the silliest statement from this campaign. Her frequent advice to voters was if they had a Congress govt in UP they too would benefit from the Centre’s schemes. She’s supposed to be more intelligent and articulate than RG but that question reveals a very unintelligent mind. As for all the statements, theatre and ‘angry man’ approach by RG, reams will be written. Never mind all that.RG is sinking his party pretty much like another man has sunk his airline.
Now from November 14, 2011 till about mid February 2012 the usual suspects in the media, like NDTV, CNN-IBN, TimesNow and their cousins in the Hindi media more or less reported only one campaigner in UP. If it wasn’t RG “coming of age” on CNN-IBN it was how “RG had evolved” on NDTV, that was the script. That guy Akhilesh Yadav was around only in some stray clips here and there. Then suddenly after around the 3rd or 4th phase of voting all the Editors and Bureau Chiefs and reporters were doing exclusives with Akhilesh Yadav, in his flights, in his bus and even in his home. Some featured even his kids on the bus. What changed? I suspect only one thing: that by mid-February the exit polls which were held back the channels must have clearly indicated Samajwadi Party was winning handsomely and Akhilesh Yadav was becoming a hero. Rajdeep Sardesai finally went on a flight with Akhilesh to interview him. Even CNN-IBN and StarNews got that part right. So quickly increased focus on AY. RG was now an also-ran. Akhilesh also gave quite a few one on one interviews which RG seems either incapable of or deems it unnecessary.
Exactly at the same time as the media’s exit polls started showing the real picture RG called for a secret, off the record meet of editors of various media outlets (February 18). Your guess is as good as mine that some of these editors would have told him what their exit polls are showing. They may not have been permitted to make it public but they can certainly share it in an “off the record” meet of this nature. Such is the crawling nature of our media that editors shamelessly even attended the breakfast meet. It is fair to believe that even the Congress pollsters would have given him the feedback about the SP’s better showing.
After four phases of voting Barkha Dutt even held a special programme on “How RG has evolved”, followed by a very interesting ‘Barbecue’ debate by Prannoy Roy and then again another programme for the ‘Muslims of UP’ by Barkha. The muslim debate was particularly in the light of great announcements for them by RG, Salman Khurshid and Digvijay Singh. It is one thing for Digvijay to say “I am responsible” and also for RG to say “I am responsible” but the question really is what are they going to do next? If RG really wants to “evolve” as a leader he will need to take some decisions. It doesn’t help to be surrounded by the likes of Digvijay, Salman or Beni Prasad who are capable of undermining a campaign without external help in stupidity. RG himself needs to learn that lines like “elephant eats money” maybe humorous a couple of times but spoken too often become a stale joke that people stop buying. Another serious lesson that these guys need to learn is “minority appeasement” doesn’t work either. Like others, muslims too refuse to be fooled anymore. He can also learn that media doesn’t help win elections.
RG could even learn from a part-time politician, Vijay Mallya. He sunk an airline much as RG is sinking his party. There is an interesting article by M.J. Akbar in India Today (Earth on Earth) about how Mallya sunk his airline by focusing on all the other things. That he still expects banks to bail him out. There is one thing for a few ministers or party-men to be rated as non-performers but when the top leader himself is seen to be repeatedly failing then either the talent or skill for that particular business is missing. Except for the liquor business which Mallya ‘inherited’ he has nothing but a string of failures to his credit. At the moment all signs are that Kingfisher may not be revived. There is interesting blog about the history of Kingfisher’s murky dealings which have meticulously chronicled by @TheKaipullai titled ‘The Curious Case of Vijay Mallya and his bailout. And one more scam!’. Perhaps in another country Mallya would have been kicked out of the business by his board. But much like the Congress, dynasty sustains many of our business groups too. Each time he campaigns there are huge noises in the media about his having “evolved as a political leader”. His sycophants may not tell him but so far it looks like stunted evolution.