The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I am not saying this. Rahul Gandhi has been delivering speeches emphasizing these words. Potato and potato chips are the recent inductions (a year or so) after the FDI coronation of ‘his’ government.

Computer, mobile phone and telecom revolution in India have been pet words in many of his speeches and they continue to be so, patronizing, sometimes, Mr. Sam Pitroda.

There were some other tag words but Rahul is not talking them right now. Given the similar streak of his speeches, they are bound to appear in some other speech by his speechwriter, I am sure.

Also, there are some whom his speechwriter is not going to recall again. There was once a Kalawati. Named by someone else, but famed by Rahul Gandhi. Rahul visited her hut, was appalled at her misery, and mentioned her in his ‘fiery’ speech in the Parliament.

Rahul had sounded so assuring then: Empower Kalavati with N-deal, says Rahul - IANS, July 22, 2008 (

“I was thinking about what I want to say and I came to a simple conclusion. I decided that it is important at this point not to speak as a member of a political party but to speak as an Indian.”

Kalawati specific parts of speech from the Lok Sabha website: (

I would go to the house of Kalawati.  I am glad you find that funny.  But Kalawati is a person whose husband committed suicide.  So, I would urge you to respect her.  I would take you to the house of Kalawati, which I also visited three days ago.  Kalawati is a woman with nine children whose husband committed suicide three years ago.  Her husband committed suicide because he was dependent on only one crop, the cotton crop.  When I asked Kalawati as to why her husband committed suicide, her answer was that he was dependent on only one source of income. … (Interruptions) …* I asked Kalavati as to what did you do.  Kalavati responded by telling me that I diversify … (Interruptions) … I spoke to two poor families.  One of them was called Mrs. Kala… (Interruptions) Mrs. Kala said that she had diversified her income sources and she has used that to stabilize her family and bring up her nine children.

Sir, at the very least, nuclear energy is going to act like Mrs. Kala’s pond and it is going to act as an insurance policy for this country in times of need.  At its maximum, nuclear energy is going to act like Mrs. Kala’s main crop.

This was the career phase of Rahul Gandhi when he evoked expectations that he would practice a different and positive style of politics. But it didn’t take much longer before it ebbed away.

See, for Kalawati, what an India Today report (October 28, 2011), had to say: Rahul's lost widows - Suicides on the rise in Vidarbha, Rahul Gandhi's Kalavati remains symbol of deprivation (

"I would take you to the house of Kalawati ... a woman with nine children whose husband committed suicide. I would urge you to respect her." When Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi quoted her example in his July 21, 2008, Lok Sabha speech, describing how she had diversified her income, Kalawati became the symbol of rural resurgence. But Rahul didn't return to check on her. In 2010, Kalawati's son-in-law, plagued by debts, committed suicide. In September, it was her daughter-the fourth death in her family in the last six years.

As Rahul started taking more and more of the political public sphere, he needed to talk more and what he needed to do above all was to do some real ‘walk the talk’.

But the example of ‘Kalawati’ symbolizes what had been happening was not in-sync. Words were coming fluently but equally superfluous was the support from the reality based ground activity.


Much has been written about the celebrated team of Rahul Gandhi. They started very well. I am not going into the overall details here. Here, it is basically about what Rahul Gandhi talked and how it all went kaput. Rahul’s speeches sounded really different initially. They sounded politically off-beat and that was the best thing about it. They sounded politically experimental and that was the needed aspect of it.

But it didn’t get the support of the task-master in Rahul. He has worked hard. We saw it in the elections of Bihar in 2012 and Uttar Pradesh in 2012. Though the Congress party says the defeats (the humiliating ones) could not be attributed to Rahul Gandhi, it was indeed Rahul’s loss.

And it happened because Rahul could not walk the talk. There came many issues when the country, especially its youth expected from him to take a different stand from the worn-out line of the now-debased Indian politics, especially on the corruption and Lokpal issue. He simply toed the line of the politicians who were conniving to derail and dilute the Lokpal Bill.

He was biased when it came to his visit to the agitating farmers in Bhatta Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress party was not in government. He didn’t show that alertness in reacting on the police firing on Maval farmers of Maharashtra because his party was a coalition-government partner there.

There are similar case studies where Rahul had to take a different and clear stand.

But Rahul either didn’t speak or if spoke, the words sounded more of speechwriters and not his, increasingly sounding more and more alienated from the vital facts.

The transition that was a must from a communication management launch-pad for a beginner to the growing presence of a full-grown politician with a difference looks to have lost its rhythm midway.

It cannot be said if Rahul and his team haven’t thought on these lines as Rahul’s speeches and his ‘Team RG’ have been much in news and the recent history cannot claim positive coverage. But given the consistency of the dull approach, one is driven to believe that they haven’t or they prefer to ignore (for reasons, they only can understand).

Giving high-pitched speeches with an angry-mannerism has become style of Rahul and that is good if exploited well. But that is not happening. Rahul is touring the length and breadth of India and delivering speeches. But the India’s political exploration goes far beyond it and that has not happened. He is surface-touching India when the need is to adapt a participative approach).

Also, covering a vast area needs a divergent approach in words. Every speech has to be backed well by sound research to get localized in the local context where it has to be delivered.

But the ones delivered during the campaigning in the Gujarat assembly Election of 2012 say ‘no lessons were learnt’ again.


How, when and what of Rahul Gandhi’s campaign in the Gujarat Assembly Election said the lessons were yet to be learnt.

He began the Gujarat campaigning only on the last day of campaigning for the first phase (December 13, 2012) of the crucial assembly elections that was going to decide many important aspects of the next national elections.

Rahul has much at stake in 2014 and the outcome of the Gujarat election is going to tell us if Modi is going to be Rahul and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s biggest challenger and possibly the ‘nemesis’.

His delayed action in Gujarat only gives space to the opinion that he is yet to regain the confidence that he lost after the election drubbings in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. And to add to it, Rahul began on the wrong note giving Modi chances to exploit his words like the Gujarat’s chief minister had done with Sonia Gandhi by turning the tables.

Okay, Rahul did not go to the extent to breach the strategy-line like Manmohan Singh did this time by raising the issue of plight of Muslims in Gujarat giving Modi a chance to hit back blaming the PM of fomenting divisive politics or like Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Maut Ka Suadagar’ (merchant of death) remark against Modi in the last assembly election in 2007 that gave the communicator in Modi enough ammunition to exploit emotions on divisive lines and polarize votes during the high moments of the final phase of the election process, still what Rahul began with was not in-sync again.

The hurt of 2007 still echoes is clear from the Congress’ strategy of avoiding use of polarizing issues like Godhara, riots or Muslims of Gujarat. But even then, what Rahul spoke of in Gujarat is not expected from a leader who is being projected as the next prime minister of the country. His team must look at these gaffes.


The old one:  

Rahul Gandhi comes out in strong support of FDI in retail

In a Farrukhabad rally, the potato price quoted by Rahul came out to be Rs. 2 or less than Rs. 2 a Kg (The report says, “Surprising all, Rahul told election gatherings across Farrukhabad and Kannauj that FDI would solve the puzzle of a kilogram of potato fetching Rs 2 or less to the farmer and a packet of potato chips costing Rs 10.”) 

Rahul’s quote according to the Hindustan Times: “A packet of potato wafers made of half a potato is sold for Rs. 10, and you get one rupee for a kilo of potato that reaches home for Rs. 10.” (

A Business Standard report (January 27, 2012) puts it more clearly: “I was in UP recently,” Gandhi told a gathering of around 5,000 at a public-rally in the border town on Tarn Taran on Wednesday. “There (UP), a farmer asked me that when he was getting Rs 2 for a kilo of potatoes, why a packet of chips was being sold at Rs 10. Can anyone answer this question?” he asked the gathering. The crowd seemed least interested, and when no replies came, Gandhi said, “The answer is FDI in retail.” (

Now the recent one:  

War of words heats up as Modi takes on Rahul 'baba' - Rediff, December 11, 2012 (

Rahul got confused while explaining FDI in retail at Amreli. He asked the audience 'What's the price of potatoes?' From the dias he could hear people say, "Rs 3" To which, he said," Potato chips are sold at Rs 10 a pack. So why oppose FDI in retail?"

The fact is in Amreli, the minimum price for a kg of potatoes is Rs 10 at the wholesale market, and much higher in the retail market.

Accepted Rahul Gandhi would not be going to do the shopping so might not be aware of the potato price. But what then his team is for? From December 2011 to December 2012, for Rahul Gandhi, the potato price has gone up by Re. 1 only, and that, too, from the paltry figure of Rs. 2 to Rs. 3 a Kg. Now I need to say a big Bravo! for the team.

I do not do such shopping for my family yet I am aware that it is not even the bulk price of the potato.

Then there were other avoidable things that Rahul said giving more chances to Modi to hit back even more harshly.


Rahul gave Modi on platter another golden chance to revert swiftly with an array of taunting words. Rahul’s absence from the Parliament or his silent presence most of the time when he is in the House is a well known fact by now. Rahul and his team must be aware of it – the negative publicity that it has generated.

It is a disturbing signal if they were aware of such facts and chose to conveniently ignore it. It is bad signal for the Indian democracy.

Even if we go by the assumption that they missed this set of important statistics while framing the speech is equally bad because the future prime-ministerial candidate of the country is going to bank on such a team.  

In the Gujarat rallies on December 11, 2012, Rahul further pointed out: Narendra Modi focuses on his own dreams, not yours: Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat - NDTV, December 11, 2012 (

"In Gujarat, the people's voice is not heard. The government of Gujarat and the Chief Minister do not want to listen to you. He wants to hear only his own voice. He has his dream and he thinks only about his own dream. ...In Gujarat the assembly functions for only 25 days a year and when it does, the Opposition is thrown out."

Modi was swift and exacting in his retribution: Rahul Vs Modi Over Gandhi and Gujarat - Outlook, SANAND (GUJARAT) | DEC 11, 2012 (

Modi tweeted, "Mr Rahul Gandhi talks of respect for Vidhan Sabha but his own attendance in Lok Sabha between May 2011-May 2012 was 24 out of 85 sittings."

"From May 2011 to May 2012, Rahul Gandhi's attendance in the Lok Sabha was 24 out of 85 sittings. From 2010 to 2011, it was 19 out of 72 sittings!" "If he had respect for the Parliament, he would go for all sittings!" he reacted further.

Independent media reports, too, confirm Rahul’s weak batting on this turf: Parliament not a priority for future leaders? Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav cut a sorry figure with less than 40 percent attendance, PTI, August 28, 2012

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, H D Kumaraswamy (JD-S), Akhilesh Yadav (SP) and Navjyot Singh Sidhu (BJP) are among those who barely attended Parliament in the third year of the 15th Lok Sabha. While Gandhi was present in the Lok Sabha on 24 days out of the 85 sittings it had between May 2011 and May 2012, Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, fared slightly better by remaining present on 31 days. Sidhu and Kumaraswamy, former Karnataka chief minister, attended the Lok Sabha on 16 days. (

Another DNA report (When Rahul Gandhi plays truant regularly…May 20, 2012) points out: For someone tipped to be the prime minister, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s record as a parliamentarian paints a dismal picture. His attendance is just about 40%, and has not taken part in any debate in last three years. When it comes to attendance, the Gandhi scion seems to be skipping the House regularly. Out of the 244 days that Parliament has been in session, Rahul attended Lok Sabha on 99 days only. Rahul’s attendance in the 14th Lok Sabha, from May 2004 to April 2009 was not best either.The data is available for last five of the 15 sessions. Rahul attended Parliament for 49 days out of total 90 days. (

Another pointer made by him in his Dahod speech blanks him again on the ‘Kalawati’ front. He said targeting Narendra Modi: "Gandhiji said that actions of the state and society must be dictated by whether it benefits its weakest member. His (Modi's) philosophy is the opposite. Will it benefit the rich? If so, I'll implement it. That is his dictum." (

Why then, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Kalawati had to see that misery after you spoke so passionately about her condition in the Indian Parliament?

There are millions of ‘Kalawatis’ in India waiting for a reformer to come and lift them up from a life of abject poverty. Your one active step could have set, if not a milestone, a brilliant example to do more.


I cannot say whether Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Team RG’ took note of such reports and went back to women like Kalawati, but even this one rightly puts Rahul Gandhi in the dock, and so his team of strategists.

Another oft-quoted element in Rahul’s speech is his experiences about Dalits and his visits to the rural hutments when he targets the Dalit vote bank. But after examples like ‘Kalawati’, poor show of Dalit Congress candidates in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly election and Rahul’s discriminatory response on farmers’ miseries in Bhatta Parsaul and Maval, every such assertion starts looking just empty.

If one googles, one can easily find what Rahul had been saying on his visits to the Dalit hutments or in the Dalit-targeted rallies. The observation in the Business Standard report flats out the logic behind every such speech or statement.

He had a series of such visits but the accumulating quantum of a past of ‘not walking the talk’ proved him wrong even if he campaigned hard in the immediate context.

He spoke similar but he didn’t look to act, equally similarly.

Rahul Gandhi does it again, visits Dalit village in Allahabad- 1 Aug 2012 (

Rahul's post-poll lesson on Dalit politics - Business Standard, April 11, 2012 (

The Business Standard report highlighted how badly the Rahul Gandhi’s Dalit strategy had worked: The young Gandhi had travelled across half the 85 reserved constituencies in the state, highlighting to his Dalit audiences the allegedly corruption-ridden BSP regime. Yet, of the 89 Dalits fielded by the Congress (including the 85 on reserved seats), it won only five. This was a fall from even its 2007 tally, where it had managed to win seven.

Gandhi had spent several nights in Dalit homes, sharing meals with their families on his visits to community hamlets. Yet, it wasn’t enough. Still, in his interactions with party leaders from the state, he has advised them to focus on winning over Dalit support.

Rahul Gandhi's Dalit chant turns out to be election gimmick - March 21, 2012 (

Rahul Gandhi all set to dent Mayawati's dalit bastion - Rediff, April 14, 2010 (

He had said while flagging off Chetna Yatra in Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkarnagar district: “I am here to change that politics; what UP needs is the politics of youth, the politics of development and employment.” (Change?? – in fact, the Congress party failed miserably in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections)

Accepted it is norm to do all such things for political survival and Rahul didn’t do anything wrong. But he indeed was wrong for he didn’t have to do the things the way other politicians used to do or were doing.

He had to be extremely careful to see what he was speaking. He needed to see if the content was localized and his words were going to see the light of the day.

His political survival and ascension was dependent on the ‘innovation factor’ that he had to bring to his personality and his ‘politics’.

He just had not to target Mayawati or any other established Dalit leader, he had to emerge as a leader of words, someone who would never be seen in the league of Mayawati or the likes but it is Mayawati who (along with Mulayam Singh Yadav), has been saving the UPA government, most recently during the retail FDI vote in the Parliament.

That is not a value-based politics. But, Rahul had begun with generating such high hopes only.


Another thing that Rahul often quotes is the how the Gandhi family has empowered the nation. He attributes computer and mobile revolution to Rajiv Gandhi and Mr. Sam Pitroda subsequently comes into the picture. He had started using Sam Pitroda during the Uttar Pradesh polls to woo voters on the ‘caste plank’ (something that had not to work).

Campaigning on the last day before the first phase of voting, Rahul said in a rally, "You have a mobile phone. Who brought it? Rajivji... what happened...a revolution came and your voice started getting heard...Who was standing with Rajivji...Sam Pitroda from Gujarat." (

See more of it:

Congress ropes in Sam Pitroda for Uttar Pradesh polls, India Today, January 28, 2012: Sam Pitroda said, "It was the dream of the late Rajiv Gandhi to promote IT sector which would help India make its presence felt on the global level." (

Rahul Gandhi uses Pitroda's OBC link for votes - TNN, December 18, 2011: The report says -RAMABAI NAGAR (UP): Rahul Gandhi said the country's telecom revolution ushered in by his father Rajiv Gandhi was authored by a "vishwakarma", Sam Pitroda, introducing the technocrat as a poster boy of "most backward castes" (MBCs) and giving a final thrust to Congress's social engineering plank for Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. (

An Indian Express report puts it more clearly, “Twenty years back Rajiv Gandhi thought of bringing mobile phones to India. Do you know who brought them? Sam Pitroda, who is a Vishkarma, “Barahi” (carpenter). He brought mobile phones to your houses.” (

Rahul has been using such similar streaks in his speeches more and more. Computer, information-technology and mobile phones are big-ticket words and long-term business processes, not directly affecting the psyche of the voter on the street. Shelter, food, water, health, education and security still remain the mainstay of the development politics and not the technological advances of sophistication.

Also, these being the long-term investment sectors, what Rahul mentions attributable to his family and his people, is not acceptable. In a democracy like India, one government takes a decision and another one continues with it, and the industry builds more on it with the increasing consumerism. Governments have nothing to boast in the process – not any longer.

And so we often hear the retribution - from media reports:

Gujarat polls 2012: Rahul takes on Narendra Modi in final hours of campaigning - The Economic Times, December 14, 2012 - The report said: “Gandhi then narrated a familiar litany of Congress achievements, including the Right To Information Act and the 'mobile revolution', which he credited to his father, Rajiv Gandhi. The late prime minister had appointed Sam Pitroda as his technology advisor and Pitroda is credited with heralding the first telecom revolution in India. However, linking Rajiv Gandhi to the 'mobile phone revolution', seemed far-fetched.” (

And from opponents like Modi: The Tribune, December 16, 2012 – He doesn’t spare Rahul Gandhi either, referring to him scornfully as “Rahul Baba”. Late Friday evening, while addressing a packed meeting in his constituency Maninagar, he tells the audience that “Rahul Baba claims his father brought about the mobile revolution.” And then asks, “Did Rahul Baba’s father give you mobile sets?” When the crowds in unison answer in the negative, much to their amusement, he tells them, “Then ask Rahul Baba to please distribute a free mobile set to each of you.”  (

A personality cult is never a healthy sign for any democracy, be it of Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi.


An angry gesture! Concern for the ‘Aam Aadmi’! Hard-hitting words! Tearing into the opponents! 

This is what makes the primary elements of Rahul Gandhi’s speeches, delivered hot on location.

Largely not customized! Mostly the context missing! Almost similar sounding examples and epithets! Flood of claims signifying and cornering achievements in the name of the grand old party of India not going into the nuances of relevance!

All in the magnificently big context of the mountainous anti-incumbency of his party led national government!

It unwinds all.

And when it couples with Rahul’s abysmal record (till now) as the ‘politician with a difference’, it makes his speeches sound even more routine, just as flurry of words without substance.  

And staking claims for achievements like mobile phones or computer revolution in the name of the glorious history of the Congress party is equally counterproductive.

Now no one is going to buy these statements. As said earlier, these are basically consumer-driven industrial policies and have to be followed and promoted by every government.

Like the retail FDI decision, every such decision to introduce a new format of businesses or a new technology for commercial purposes is taken in the global environment. It is not about who let the television technology come to India or liberalized industrial policies for the private players to play larger role in the business sectors like telecom, information-technology and now retail.

Such decisions are driven by the incumbent internal and external factors. The decision to allow the multi-brand retail FDI is the telling example in hand. The slowdown of domestic and global economy and the pressure of countries like the US played the major role in it. Had it been the NDA government at the helm of the affairs in the circumstances, it would have done the same.

And claiming benefits of such decisions, the outcomes of which are so huge, spread over a long period of time, dissected and diversified, to a single party or a single or group of persons, is another thing that one should avoid while writing speeches (India may be a half-baked democracy but certainly it is not a North Korea or China) – no singing paeans please.

The maximum one can go for in contextualizing the validity of such decisions by packaging and customizing the speech keeping in mind the target audience.

And all this reflects on the type of the politics Rahul has been practicing (and not what he had raised the hopes about)!

Coming back to his speeches in the light of all this, it has been an observation that the elements of the speech that Rahul begins a campaign with dominate verbatim throughout the campaign.

The problem is not with the elements. It is about being them verbatim. Another factor is the transfer of some of those elements from one campaign to the other without the necessary circumstantial changes. Also the other major problem is the narrow choice of the examples to exemplify. Some other relevant issues are:

Rahul’s speeches are not localized.

The content of the speeches is not customized.

Speeches are high on rhetoric but low on substance.

There have been poor research to back the allegations made in the speeches and we have seen misfires.


Uttar Pradesh is his battlefield of political soul-searching. Apart from being the family legacy of the political history of the Nehru-Gandhi family, this most populous but economically backward state is also the state with the highest representation in the Indian Parliament.

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) being on the margins, Rahul’s main opposition here is Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Rahul had to search and claim his political ground away from these two political outfits.

But, ironically, these two political outfits, owing to their selfish agenda, have been instrumental in saving the UPA government at many occasions, be it the No-Confidence Motion of 2008 or the Lokpal debate last year or the recent discussion and voting on the retail FDI.

You are targeting Mulayam and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh while your party is doing backdoor dealings with them – saying something and doing contrary to it - it has become the norm with the Indian politicians of the day – but it was not certainly expected from the politician in Rahul Gandhi.

The ‘politician with a difference’ should have never done it. Rahul criticizes SP government for U-turn on computer education. Rahul blames Mayawati for miserable situation of Dalits. And his party led central government acts with their active support. A major chunk of Rahul’s ‘pro-Dalit’ sentiment is based on anti-Mayawati politics. Yet Mayawati has become the ultimate in-thing for the UPA government these days after she voted for the government in the Rajya Sabha on retail FDI while Mulayam is hell-bent on killing the ‘Promotion Quota Bill’.

Yes, it is politics of compulsion and doing such compromises have hurt chances of Rahul. His grand old party has been engaged in unethical political business believing in the new-found dictum (of old origin) that there is nothing unethical in politics (politicians proudly say there is no permanent friend or foe in politics) and Rahul has seldom looked to react on such practices.

It is true he cannot do these things publicly but given the clout he has in the Congress party, he could have certainly brought positive changes to its functioning. That would be visible certainly. But the congress party is still the same party blamed so-often for being anti-democratic. In fact, Rahul now looks settled to promote the grand old way of functioning of the grand old party of India.

Rahul’s political career is too short and the name of the ‘Gandhi family’ is not sacrosanct anymore. Even then it is big enough to give a platform and what he needed to do was to take bold and politically unorthodox decisions to claim the top political position.

That track he seemed to have lost by now. Yes, given the political equations and the poor and shabby political opposition, he has all the chances to become the prime minister in future, if not in 2014, but then, he will be just yet another politician forced on the Indian masses and not loved by them.

Rahul needs to ponder over these:

Didn’t the Mahatma’s teachings (Rahul said in a Gujarat rally that the Mahatma was his role-model) tell him to practice ‘walk the talk’, something that the Mahatma always maintained?

Didn’t following the Mahatma tell our next prime-ministerial candidate that he must truly know the India across its length and breadth first?

Didn’t reading the Mahatma tell Rahul Gandhi that personal integrity is all and the country’s first family must come clean on corruption allegations instead of blatantly doing cover-ups something done audaciously in Robert Vadra’s case of inappropriate land acquisitions?

Now only Rahul can tell us if the country has still the chances to get back in Rahul the ‘politician with a difference’. That would, indeed, be the only political soul-searching for him.

His potato and computer anecdotes would self-correct then and the masses would find the Connect that both, the politician and masses, seek.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -