Mediocre players, Terrible Game
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

After such a dismal performance of the UPA 2.0  any electoral victory of the Congress party should seem remarkable. And rhetorically speaking, if that victory comes from Uttar Pradesh, the triumph will presumably be lapped up emphatically enough for it to be viewed as a catalyst for Rahul’s accession to the top most post.

But a decent hundred plus finish is as likely for the Congress as it is for the BJP.  Basically, it’s all up for grabs: no one’s in, no one’s out, no one’s up and no one’s down.  It’s like a probability wave.

Okay then, let’s forget phsephology. Instead, let’s talk politics.

If statistics could overwhelm, Uttar Pradesh would be a superpower by itself without the rest of India. With over Two hundred million people, four hundred and three state assembly seats, eighty LS seats and eight Prime Ministers hailing from the state, if electoral India has a heartland, it certainly is not Delhi, Bombay or Bangalore. But, the economic deficiencies cannot be masked, irrespective of the political clout.

Sandwiched between the awesome political clout and the not so awesome economic one, Uttar Pradesh, deservedly or otherwise has come to hold an embarrassing place in the popular Indian imagination. Along with its country cousin Bihar and to a lesser extent Delhi, UP re-enforces many negative stereotypes about North India. However, the success of Bihar puts UP in an even more embarrassing position.  Infact, Biharis today probably look at the current polity of Maharashtra or Karnataka and chuckle. A remarkable turnaround indeed.

UP’s success is pivotal to the India story or whatever is left of it. The political, economic and social de-generation of Uttar Pradesh must be addressed.  Because, given its size, India can go only so far with Gujarat, Maharashtra and South India. North India is North India.

UP’s success is pivotal to the India story or whatever is left of it. The political, economic and social de-generation of Uttar Pradesh must be addressed.

The bearded Rahul Gandhi strides into our television cameras to be greeted by fawning crowds; nostalgic for the old times,but hopeful for the future under the current Gandhi.  Or so is the projection. The media is attributing Obama esque charm and change to Rahul Gandhi. But the brainwashing effect on the English media aside, there are probably more doubters then believers in the Rahul effect.

Hinging on this projection of Rahul and the skullduggery of Diggi Raja, the Congress is, perhaps not wrongly, hoping for a no. two/ no. three finish. And then regardless, they will claim victory and pack shop. Gracefully, Indian public life is not so easily controllable.

Few years on from his entry into politics, it is perhaps too charitable to not hold Rahul upto any standard. But, it is this lack of scrutiny reminiscent of a medieval monarchy that rankles. The aloof Gandhi religiously avoids making any political interventions and is as risk averse as a ninety year old grandma. The reality is that after so many years into politics Rahul fades in comparison to most of his peers. He will not even take basic responsibility; he will not become the CM or hold any executive post. Predictably, post elections he will disappear from public life again making selective comfortable choreographed interventions under controllable circumstances. Almost like a science experiment in controlled settings.

To illustrate the difference between the coverage of Rahul by the Indian press and its American counterpart of its players in that other great political theatre, the Republican Primaries, I have never come across any American commentator endorsing Romney, Gingrich or Paul because they are sincere, earnest and hard-working. Yes, these qualities are welcome, but they are pre-requisites of any leader not the defining character traits of a statesman.  In the States, any candidate must project a persona, a narrative and back it with a personal and executive record in office. It is all about the message and then the past record as a test of credibility.

Supporters will toast, if Rahul succeeds in UP but the questions will remain. With such competition, the BJP should have shone in comparison. That it doesn’t is another story.

The bankruptcy of the current crop is such that I cannot imagine that they will be rewarded in UP. But, ofcourse all this is my subjective opinion and I cannot be righteous enough to claim that my opinion is somehow better that someone else’s who feels the opposite.

Nevertheless, the people of UP have a well documented habit of making political history. And dare I say, its time they consign the mediocre political dynasties to the dustbin of our politics and once again change India’s history.