There is “no right time to tell the truth” he proudly told political rallies across Punjab and Uttar Pradesh last week
If you have in recent days started to see Rahul Gandhi in a shimmering new light, you are not alone. Since the day he described as non-sensical a law that his Mummy’s government was imposing, the aura-makers have been busy. With fine words and high interpretations they have tried to build around the Congress’s young prince an aura that they hope will make him appear like a credible future leader. So emboldened has he been by this exaltation that everywhere he goes he brings up the brief press conference that got him onto the covers of two major political weeklies and that inspired a flood of analysis about the ‘generational change’ that he is supposed to have signalled with his intervention.
There is “no right time to tell the truth” he proudly told political rallies across Punjab and Uttar Pradesh last week, and to Dalits he offered the advice that they develop the “escape velocity” of Jupiter. Even this bizarre comment has been the subject of political analysis. Was this an original thought or had he borrowed it from Harvard?
Who are the aura-makers? They are liberal, leftist political analysts who have for decades spun auras around the Gandhi family that disguise their flaws and create illusions. The aura-makers are to a man (and woman) English-speaking, middle-class, upper-caste journalists, bureaucrats and politicians who have made long and successful careers out of serving the Dynasty. Many have been so good at their job that they have garnered national awards by the dozen and when bad days come and they lose elections or jobs, it is only a matter of time before they find their way into the Rajya Sabha.
This is usually a reward for painting spectacular, shining auras around members of the Dynasty and paying unquestioning obeisance. When Sonia Gandhi renounced accountability, but not political power, by anointing Dr Manmohan Singh Prime Minister in her place, she was exalted as the goddess of sacrifice. And, when Rajiv Gandhi bankrupted India with reckless, ill-conceived economic policies, he was praised as the hero of economic reform. Indira Gandhi to this day is portrayed as the defender of the poor, even though in the 20 years she ruled India most Indians remained as poor and illiterate as they ever were and her policies at the same time turned India into an economic basket case. Incidentally, foreign investors are beginning to see India as an economic basket case again, but all that the aura-makers do is praise Sonia Gandhi’s welfare programmes and Rahul’s ‘new’ ideas.
The aura-makers have become increasingly animated since Narendra Modi's first big rally in northern India, in Jaipur last month, because it elevated his stature to that of a national leader. Before this rally, they were convinced that he would not win support outside Gujarat because he was too ‘provincial’ a leader. When his travels across India continued and drew rallies that grew larger by the day, the aura-makers began to worry and so it is that they now seek to build an aura around a man who till the other day they talked of disparagingly as “Rahul baba”. He disappointed them by losing important elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and by vanishing for months afterwards to places where he became as unreachable as if he had gone to Jupiter to test its ‘escape velocity’.
The aura-makers ensure that you never hear about these mysterious disappearances just as you never hear about the glaring gaps in his political and economic education. Is he a socialist? Does he believe that the poor (and especially Dalits) have been denied their rights to clean water, good schools and basic healthcare? Does he believe that they would not have needed ‘escape velocity’ if they had been given these things? These are questions to which you will never get answers because the aura-makers do not want these answers. They see the Dynasty as the central pillar of the secular, socialist illusion they have created in the safe and salubrious environs of Lutyens Delhi.
An illusion so fragile that it could vanish and bring their lives and livelihoods down like houses made of cards. Today there is only one man who appears to have the possibility of making this happen, so Narendra Modi must be crushed. At the same time, as you now hear every day about the ‘rebellion’ that Rahul Gandhi is supposedly leading against the Congress’s ‘old guard’ (read Mummy), you will hear about the failures in Gujarat. The campaign to paint Modi as a Muslim-hating maniac has failed, so there is a new campaign afoot that seeks to prove that Gujarat is a failed model of development. If Modi wants to continue to ride the tidal wave of popularity on which he sits today, he must beware the aura-makers. They are very good at their job.
Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @tavleen_singh