The only thing that could pull Congress out of Rahul's dud leadership is a wife who’ll twist his ear and tell him what he's doing wrong
It is tiresome to keep repeating that Rahul is a dud. My suggestion instead is that the Congress get him married, against his will if necessary, in order to stave off extinction
If I were on the Congress Working Committee (CWC), India's oldest party's highest decision-making body (well, in theory at least), then in order to save my institution, I'd stand up and propose that the CWC move a resolution asking party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to immediately get married.
I'd say that the rank-and-file would not brook any protest by the eternally young 47-year-old, and that it was a matter of life-and-death for a party, which, like the Titanic, appears to have hit an iceberg named Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What's the worst that the party could do to me? Suspend me for anti-party or anti-national activity when all I had suggested was an anti-bachelor activity? I even suspect that party president Sonia Gandhi might secretly (and enthusiastically) back my suggestion. Heck, others may suspect the same and stand up, one after the other, to support my resolution. Hopefully, it would then become a matter that is out of Rahul's hands.
But why, you may ask, the hurry to get Rahul married? Last week, the BJP not only did well in the civic body polls across Maharashtra but the Congress ended up decimated in the bargain. Mumbai lad Milind Deora might quip sarcastically about Mumbai voters' apathy towards potholes and malaria, and he may grudgingly concede that his party suffers from infighting and torpor, but he evades the main reason his party lost: it lost because Rahul is a dud.
Deora may claim the Mumbai result will have no impact on the ongoing UP assembly poll; and it might not as Indian voters have repeatedly demonstrated that they make up their minds long before actual campaigning. Yet, it will foreshadow the result in UP: Rahul will not be leading his party to victory. The alliance with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party is not working on the ground. Rahul's rallies are uninspiring and unfocussed. (Akhilesh and BSP chief Mayawati, on the other hand, have robustly taken on Modi.) Rahul's allegedly feisty sister Priyanka might have been a game-changer, but she is kept mothballed (as Rahul was, earlier) for some future showdown – by which time, things might be too late.
It is tiresome, however, to keep repeating that Rahul is a dud, as everybody across the political spectrum does ad nauseam. Thus, my suggestion instead is that the Congress get Rahul married, against his will if necessary, in order to stave off extinction. Delhi has whispered about Rahul's marriage plans before and the BJP's post-truth apparatus has done its bit to spread their own noxious rumours about foreign girlfriends or hinterland dalliances. Perhaps Sonia did actually try and arrange his marriage in her social circle, and failed; or perhaps like any irresponsible aging bachelor, he's just commitment phobic. Who knows?
I do know that marriage is an effective panacea. I have a genius, creative friend who has bipolar disorder, and who married some years ago. His spouse is lovely, strong, independent and intelligent. She also manages him well. (Like other bipolar people, he often rebels against management.) She makes him take lithium on time, suggests career paths when he reaches a fork in the road, is his 24-hour counsellor and consigliere. I am so impressed with her that I spoke to the father of another friend who is bipolar and who is in and out of institutions, and I suggested marriage. The father was ecstatic at the suggestion, the friend, not so much. I'm still hopeful.
Marriages around me lately seem to be falling apart, but I still feel marriage is a pretty good idea of a partnership – till it becomes a power struggle. Most women I know are practical and also tactically sound: either prompting spouses forward or holding them back, judging the right moment for every move.
Rahul needs a wife to beat him into shape; at the moment he is like silly putty or kneaded dough. He needs her to twist his ear and say what his party might be afraid of telling him. He needs her to plot the Machiavellian moves that are essential to political life, which he seemingly lacks despite his famous DNA. A potential Mrs Rahul need not be chosen the way the President of India is selected (North vs South, Dalit vs Brahmin, Hindu vs minority, etc). He need not love her, come to think of it (after all, at 47, he is likely to be low-energy). He needs only to obey her.
Rahul and allegedly feisty Priyanka have often told the media to lay off their private lives. That might be a fair request if India was not faced with a national emergency. If Rahul doesn't man up soon we'll have Modi and his Sturmabteilung continuing in power in 2019 and beyond. Hurry up Rahul, and provide yeoman service to the nation for once!
Aditya Sinha's crime novel, The CEO Who Lost His Head, is available now. He tweets @autumnshade Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org