Back in December 2013, when AAP made an impressive debut in electoral politics and went on to form a 49 days long government in Delhi with the outside support of Congress, Rahul Gandhi had said that he will learn from the success of AAP.
And it appears that he was dead serious, even though people take his statements in jest. In the last couple of years, Rahul Gandhi has been doing everything AAP has done, or rather Kejriwal has done.
It made sense. AAP had taken away Congress’ vote bank and Arvind Kejriwal had become the poster boy of the same ecosystem that Congress had fed and nurtured all these years. The ecosystem had found a new messiah and saviour, leaving the poor Rahul Gandhi high and dry.
Rahul Gandhi must have thought ‘usme aisa kya hai jo mujh mein nahi hai’ a la that character in Shah Rukh Khans’ movie Chak De India. Then he would have recalled another SRK movie – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi – where the hero transforms himself to do what his bae loves.
If one studies Rahul Gandhi’s moves and statements in the last couple of years, it’s Kejriwal written all over it. Haule haule, but he is perfecting his Kejriwalifaction.
If Kejriwal claims that “Modi is not allowing me to work”, Rahul claims “Modi is not allowing me to speak”. If Kejriwal says Modi is working for Ambani-Adani, Rahul says Modi working only for rich industrialists. Kejriwal attacks Paytm, Rahul says “Paytm means Pay to Modi”. Kejriwal says Modi took bribes, Rahul says Modi took bribes.
If Kejriwal spreads rumours and doesn’t even explain when caught, Rahul Gandhi has been busy spreading rumour that 5-6% of cash will “magically disappear” and go to rich people every time you do a cashless transaction, and he doesn’t bother to explain how that magic would happen.
Today, after coming back from his new year holiday destination that no one knows about, Rahul Gandhi took this process of Kejriwalification further when at a Congress event he made Kejriwalesque claims that can’t be backed with data (he claimed that automobile sales had dropped by 60%, while real figure is 18%) and when he claimed that the media was under constraints and thus not critical enough of Narendra Modi government.
Speaking at ‘Jan Vedna Sammelan’ of the Congress in Delhi today, Rahul Gandhi further said that ‘for the first time the Prime Minister of India is being ridiculed the world over’. This is exactly what Arvind Kejriwal had said a couple of weeks back when Rahul Gandhi was holidaying abroad.
The only thing that has stopped Rahul Gandhi from becoming a perfect clone of Arvind Kejriwal is that he is yet to abuse Narendra Modi by calling him a ‘coward and psychopath’ or to drag Narendra Modi’s mother and wife in his jibes. These two jobs are currently being done by his trolls.
But will Rahul Gandhi benefit from this Kejriwalification? And where will he stop at?
I think he will benefit, but not because he has become a clone of Kejriwal but because Kejriwal has become a farce in comparison – a clowny clone of his own self that we saw during and before the Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement.
However, let me add the obvious disclaimer that currently it’s my personal opinion (that Kejriwal has become a farce). But if AAP fails to win Goa and Punjab, especially Punjab, it will be more widely accepted that Kejriwal’s charisma is on the wane.
Punjab elections have already been turned into a virtual referendum on Kejriwal’s popularity when Manish Sisodia appealed to the voters to vote as if Arvind Kejriwal was to become the Chief Minister of Punjab. Punjab is yet another Delhi like battle and winning it will be crucial for AAP.
Punjab election results will decide if that part of the ecosystem (fed and nurtured by Congress), which had fallen in love with Kejriwal, will come back to Congress or not. If AAP fails to win (it was slated to sweep the elections as per opinion polls of last year), the ecosystem will realise that perhaps they should go back to the tried and tested Congress. That’s where Rahul Gandhi could benefit.
Punjab election results will also decide if Kejriwalification of Rahul Gandhi will continue or not. If Congress wins, Rahul will have all the reasons to believe that Kejriwalification helped him, and thus the process will continue. If AAP wins, Rahul Gandhi will yet again resolve to learn even more from AAP and that might actually accelerate his Kejriwalification.
But what is unpredictable is the direction in which Rahul Gandhi will move if BJP-SAD combine retains Punjab. Most probably even that will not stop the Kejriwalification of Rahul Gandhi, because for that to happen, someone in the Congress needs to tell Rahul Gandhi the truth.
But we know that whether Rahul Gandhi is in Swades or Pardes, he will only hear Yes Boss and no one will ask him to stop being a Duplicate.
(originally published on OpIndia.com)