Rahul Gandhi is missed when he is missing.
Where on earth is Rahul Gandhi ? His enigmatic disappearing act has invested him with the power of absence. In ‘Being and Nothingness’ Satre describes the ‘thereness’ of the ‘not-there’. He goes to a cafe to look for his friend Pierre. The cafe is noisy and crowded, but the ‘notthereness’ of Pierre renders it into an echoing emptiness. In the world of politics, the art of eloquent silence was mastered by Narasimha Rao, who was said to be able to keep speaktinot in seven languages simultaneously.
The power of absence can indeed be an effective political ploy. But only so long as it’s seen to be a mask concealing its opposite – the absence of power. The power of absence lies in the longing it engenders. An absent parent might be romanticized, an estranged or dead relative’s life fictionalised into a narrative of what-might-have-been. Occasionally someone will meet the absent parent or relative and then the longing disappears. It doesn’t matter whether or not a relationship ensures, when the mystery is gone, the longing evaporates. The puzzle piece has been found. It may not turn out to have been an important piece at all. What is important is Rahul’s absence.
Is Rahul in the process of learning the power of absence ? With AAP unveiling its national aspirations, BJP getting into J&K, TMC getting into a pact with BJP, Congress’s sole reason of existence is the scion of the family continuing the dynasty. Sans Rahul, the Congress becomes a narrative without a plot, a directionless compass missing the magnetic North.
I never understood Rahul Gandhi. On the one hand you have a Prime Minister who is in your face on a daily basis and wears more than just his name on his sleeves, and on the other, we get Rahul Gandhi, who is happy just folding his sleeves. A reluctant Hamlet running the Congress party with a distressed mother because she doesn’t know what to do with her maverick son.
And it is not about where he is missing. It is only about why is he missing when he shouldn’t be. In the present context he is more Wordsworth and less Nehru. More the Wanderer and less the Statesman. The occasional temper tantrum apart, he seemed to be an ineffectual Hamlet miscast as an all-action Henry V.
Come back Rahul on 19th April. All is forgiven. We really missed you when you were missing.