Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The candidate who flunked the interview

By Rajesh Sharma

Indian TV’s greatest event of 2014 – Rahul Gandhi interviewed by Arnab Goswami, telecast on 27 January – as the Times Now Channel repeatedly flashed the ad (as if the year was going to end that evening) had just begun when I switched the channels after dinner. 

Hoping there would be something refreshing, if not important, to see and hear, I settled down like a tame idiot before the box. In fact, I even raised the TV’s volume so as not to miss a word of what would be said.


The unsteady and shifting eyes of Rahul were already hinting how the interview would go. I still told myself he would speak with better confidence once he was a few minutes into the show. But that never happened.

The boy had not been properly trained. I want to whip his trainers.  He had memorized a few stock phrases and thought he would be able to field all questions. He did not seem to have visualized that he could be faced with someone other than a Congressman, much less a journalist who flaunts aggression. Yet, to be fair to Arnab, he was this time sufficiently polite in speech, sporting his characteristic aggression only through facial musculature. 

What did I expect of Rahul?

I expected Rahul to be candid and courageous. 

I expected something of the flaming dream that had marked Nehru. Or a shadow of it that lingered in Rajiv. 

I was not worried Rahul would fumble and say a few politically incorrect, even embarrassing, things. 

I believed he was young.

But he spoke like he was already too old to offer hope.

And he spoke of harnessing the young Indians’ energy to change ‘the system’.  Could inauthenticity be more authentically incarnated? And what does one mean by ‘the system’? Isn’t ‘system’ now the easy refuge of the out-of-date, shallow-minded pseudo-thinkers?

Rahul spoke like a candidate from one of India’s many private management-diploma shops, who have never known a good book, who have no hands-on experience, who rely on second-hand notes. On thoughtless plagiarism.

If women can be empowered with three additional LPG cylinders, I will sponsor 30.

If Modi’s government machinery actively contributed to the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, ‘my’ party’s government at the centre should have dismissed ‘his’ government, whatever the consequences. 

If Congressmen were involved in the massacre of the Sikhs on the capital’s streets, as Rahul almost admitted they ‘could be’, he should have not only apologized (he had a great opportunity) but vowed to bring the killers to justice within a specific time frame by promising to fast-track the cases. 

Rahul had a chance to heal the wounds that have festered for thirty years. He refused to heal. 

But then only a man – who humbly accepts his mortal condition, against all the splendor of royalty – can be a healer. Not one who is less than a man.  

I expected Rahul to be a man. I expected him to be a gentleman.

He disappointed me. 

Not that he cannot become a PM. He may, given the way some ‘democracies’ work. So what if he becomes a PM? It will be just another plastic feather in mediocrity’s cap. 

Thanks to Manmohan Singh, we know beyond doubt that no office, howsoever high, can make you a leader. You either are a leader, or are not. 

And these days, who knows we may have leaders who are not even men. Much less gentlemen.


1 comment:

"BrAiN bEaTs" said...

Sir he has even disappointed his party men and family! 'I want to whip his trainers' is the most amusing line. Very well analyzed and hats off to writing and expression.