Rahul Gandhi, whom very few people outside India had noticed until recently, is now a big name in foreign quarters, particularly foreign media. The Western establishment has decided that he represents India’s future just as sixty-odd years ago it had made up its mind that Jawaharlal Nehru would take over India one day. They proved right and Nehru became India’s first Prime Minister, elbowing out people like Sardar Patel and others. The same people in the west are now rooting for his great-grandson with the same hope and not a little wishful thinking, but the question is, will they prove right?
The American newsmagazine, Newsweek, has a cover story on Rahul Gandhi, with his big picture on the cover, nearly as big as the cover itself. He is described as “The Quiet Revolutionary”, a quaint description, since the man will actually be taking on quite a few confirmed revolutionaries such as Marxists, though they may have outlived the revolution, if they ever were part of it. He is said to be a man who, wants to remake India, as if India was some kind of putty which anybody, revolutionary or not, can fashion as he or she wishes. But that is how the Western establishment—meaning the ruling elites in the United States and Britain –view India and the Gandhi family’s role in it.
The story is written by an Indian reporter, who, was according to his own confession, some kind of a revolutionary himself, actually a Naxalite, if not close to them, which may not be a good qualification to write about India, or, for that matter, any other country in the world. Naxalites are basically destroyers and Rahul Gandhi is supposed to be the next maker of India. But this is how they all start when they want to project a man. There were similar stories about Nehru himself, in the Western press, long before he was anointed as India’s man of destiny. These things are apparently decided much in advance by those who matter in the west, and we in India accept them dutifully, just as we accept their fashions and their films, because, for us, the slaves of the west, whatever the west says, goes.
For some reason, most Westerners believe that the Congress swept the polls, just because it happened to defeat the BJP and formed the government. For newspapers like “The Economist” the BJP’s defeat was “good news from India.” The paper’s editors would have fainted had BJP won. Actually, it was not much of a victory for the Congress. It won only 200-odd seats in a house of over 540, that is, less than 40 per cent, which is not exactly sweeping. But this is what Western newspapers are writing, though the reporters are generally Indian, and they should know.
Rahul Gandhi is now said to be “discovering” India, just as his great-grandfather did in his time. How do you discover India? You go and spend some time in cottages of the poor in villages, have a meal or two with their families, and spend a night under their leaking roofs. This is what Rahul apparently did, we are told by Newsweek’s man in India and this is how he got the votes which, in the end, catapulted him and his party to power in New Delhi.
We shall never know what really happened, and how the Congress got its votes and whether the votes were genuine, but there is little doubt that the Westerners are determined to see yet another Gandhi on the Delhi “throne.” The tie between the Western establishment and the Nehru-Gandhis is very strong and goes back almost a century. It is not merely a coincidence that all the Nehru-Gandhis studied in England, though, we should say, spent their time than studied. An Indian politician close to the Gandhis once told me that it is virtually impossible to be India’s prime minister without the endorsement, if not approval, of US and Britain. He said that the embassies of the two countries in Delhi are always very busy during elections not only busy in the usual diplomatic sense, but busy with cash and other help right through the election. Sixty years after Independence, the colonial relationship between the west and India still continues unabated.
Let us go back to the Gandhis. Nehru, of course, studied in Harrow and Cambridge though he did not leave much of a mark in either place. His daughter Indira Priyadarshini, spent a lot of time in London where she flirted with Communism and acquired friends like Krishna Menon, PN Haksar and Jyoti Basu, all of them Communists or leftists of varied shades. We do not know what she did there because there are no records. But the contacts she established at the time, particularly with the Mountbatten household, came in very hand later.
Rajiv Gandhi also studied in Cambridge but came home without a degree. It was in Cambridge that he met his future wife, now the Congress supremo. He was followed by Rahul Gandhi who, according to the story in “Newsweek”, first went to Harvard, and eventually graduated from Rollins College in Florida. He then received an M Phil in development from Cambridge University—Cambridge again, a favourite spot of the Gandhis. After that, Rahul spent the next three years with the Monitor Group in London, a consulting company. We cannot know what exactly he did in that company, because, according to “Newsweek” he was using an assumed name, though we are not told what the assumed name was.
So Rahul Gandhi did what his father had done before him, though not exactly what his grandmother had done. In other words, he did practically very little. This is the man who is said to be holding India’s destiny in his hands. Anyway, this is what the Westerners, that is, western magazines like “Newsweek” are saying. This is also what they said about Jawaharlal Nehru, who too was India’s man of destiny, according to them, and also about Indira Gandhi. It is surprising how India’s destiny always finds its way into the frail hands of the Gandhi family, and how the family itself always finds its way to Cambridge, England, where four generations of the family have spent time and money, and acquired English manners, including how to use knife and fork, and, along the way, a degree or two.
The “Newsweek” story is only the beginning. More will follow. You will soon see other stories in other magazines, followed by books by Harvard and Yale teachers. This particular “Newsweek” story does not carry a single quote from the young man himself, may be because the reporter was too busy meeting hacks in Delhi, who fed him with those usual tidbits that such stories are generally made of. Anyway, why should Rahul Gandhi meet a mere reporter? He is waiting for an invitation from Barack Obama himself, when the anointing of yet another man of destiny will presumably carry the authentic mark of the West.