Kingmaker Robert Vadra?

Should Robert Vadra join politics? It is the sort of question one asks at the dinner table if you are awfully fond of your relatives. However, it has become news. This is not the first time that Priyanka Gandhi’s husband has campaigned for the Congress.

There are two factors here:
  • The Congress Party wants to act obsequious, so anything remotely connected with the family will be wooed.
  • The Opposition sees this as an opportunity to bait.

Let us get a few fundamentals out of the way. Spouses, siblings and even special friends campaign during elections. There is always a trusted group. Atal Behari Vajpayee had his adopted family; L.K.Advani has his daughter; and almost all the ‘maharajahs’ have family members involved. Elections are about immediate and extended families.

Robert Vadra had to make a sacrifice when he married. He broke ties with his own family. Is he looking for some returns? This is what he said:

“I am here for my brother-in-law. For me politics will come if I think I can make a difference for the people, only when I can feel I can focus and I can give my best and full attention for the development of the people. I am totally enjoying what I am doing right now. The family I married into is in politics. It's something I cannot run away from. When the time is right, if it is what is required at that time may be yes but my focus is on my work right now.”

Priyanka said he was misquoted and he is happy with his “vyaapar” (business). The news clip immediately cut to the portion where he did mention that if people wanted he would join politics. Is it unusual? Not quite. He knows that Indians like package deals. We do not consider nepotism bad; it is our birthright. We assume that experience rubs off on those in one family. He used the words “cannot run away from” where he was trying to convey a sense of responsibility. He is also seen as a son of the Gandhis, for he is there on every occasion, especially on death anniversaries, seated in white kurta pyjama to share the moment.

There will be sniggers over this comment:

“Right now it is Rahul's time, Priyanka's time will also come.” 

It is a smart one. That Priyanka has chosen to play homemaker earns him brownie points. It means that while supportive of her aspirations, he is also in control. Her “time will also come” sends out a nice patriarchal promise to a patriarchal society that the lady they think should play an active role might do so in the future, so support her brother now.

Whether as asset or as baggage Robert Vadra will work in favour of Rahul Gandhi. In one scenario, he will be the strong backdrop; in the other, the guy who makes Rahul look so good and correct that he just cannot fail.

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End note:

Rahul Gandhi says that unlike others he has no ambition of being Prime Minister. It is time the Congress initiated him in a real role with some other portfolio. The grassroots stuff is good, but he cannot be walking around all the time. He should put himself to test, if it is the language of politics he wants to talk.


  1. FV,

    If the choice is between The Family and The Parivaar, I will stand by the latter any day.

    However, I strongly disapprove of their foul-mouthed campaign about Sonia's foreign origins. It is disrespectful not just to her but also to India. She chose to be an Indian, in spite of having lost two of her closest family memebrs to violent political forces in this country. She chose to stay on in spite of grave security threats to herself and her kids. She is a better Indian than most of us. Notwithstanding the venal Congress politics, I have the deepest regard for her courage and commitment.

  2. F&F:

    I agree with you about the snide comments, but Sonia Gandhi staying back in India does not make her more Indian than us, just as it might not make her any less.

    Think about it: two tragedies in the family and she does have an option. many who have their whole families wiped out don't. And certain communities are pilloried for just the faith they were born in and some people are called jihadi only by virtue of that faith and questioning a SMALL segment of the majority community's politics.

    Leave some respect for them, too. Thanks.

  3. FV,

    Sorry the comment took a long way coming!

    It seems that we both hold a morbid fascination with Gujarat riots.

    Though deeply tragic, the event is just one of the long list of traumatic and tumultous upheavels in the history of India. Modi is just one of the countless politicians and numerous CMs. Gujarat is just one of the many states. Opinion about Gujarat riots can not be the shibboleth against which people are to be judged before being either hailed or trashed.

    The extremity of one view is born out of the extremity of the other. THEREFORE, there is no option but to make every attempt to reach a middle ground. Demonising Modi with hateful epithets is unlikely to help this cause.

  4. F&F:

    Thank you. Agreed. And jihad is just one of the things people indulge in. There are other forms of terror. People die. People get killed. Foreign governments interfere in other countries. They kill. Chain continues.

    Don't demonise, but don't look the other way. Therefore, I don't have a morbid fascination with Modi, but I am just looking...


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