Saturday, May 3, 2014

So, whose daughter are you, anyway???

This appeared in Mumbai Mirror....
                      So, whose daughter are you, anyway…?
Full disclosure : I am partial towards Priyanka Gandhi. There. I’ve said it. My soft corner for her has nothing to do with her politics. Or the party she is willy- nillly ‘belongs’ to. So, in my case, there’s nothing official about it. I have never met her. Chances are, I am unlikely to do so in future. Despite that, I like her. I guess one can call me her fan girl ( or rather, fan woman). I don’t have a problem with that, either. The thing is, one suspends logic and rational thinking around people who exude high wattage charisma . Priyanka is such a person. Which is another reason that makes one wonder why the Congress party kept its ace card under wraps till it was too late. Priyanka could ably conduct a master class in PR . Her people skills are awesome.  And she is a total natural when it comes to campaigning. If, in earlier elections, it was her relaxed body language and effortless charm that wowed the media and voters, this time, it’s her feisty and aggressive  frontal attacks, adopting a completely different body language, that has captivated Priyanka watchers. Will she emerge as the most important game changer for Rahul-Sonia-Congress? Unlikely. Chances are a great deal of  wound licking will take place later this month. But that is not Priyanka’s fault.  Poor Priyanka has an albatross around her neck ( Robert Vadra ).And now, some sections of the press have deliberately distorted Narendra Modi’s innocuous comment to DD (“Beti toh beti hi hoti hai”) and said NAMO wants to play her Daddyji! For once, my sympathies are with Narendrabhai.
However, I do come across countless ‘Unclejis’ who want to play Daddyjis and pull out this silly card when they want to hit on young girls. It is seriously puke making, but it happens. I have always had a problem with middle-aged men claiming, “ You are like my own beti,” when they are introduced to PYTs. Translated, it means : Don’t mind if I paw you, baby. Generally speaking, the lechy expression in their eyes gives the game away instantly. There’s nothing remotely paternal about it. And yet, this rubbish about creating instant ‘betis’ is a sentiment endorsed and applauded by our hypocritical society. We live in an unambiguously patriarchal system to begin with.Add to that political mischief mongers who specialize in twisting words. Besides, as Priyanka herself pointed out sharply, she has a father. His name is Rajiv Gandhi. And she isn’t looking for a poor substitute! So there!!
 It makes me sick when elderly men eagerly hug and squeeze nubile girls and trot out those seriously annoying words (“ Namastey beti…. come, come, come… give uncle a hug… you are like my daughter”). It’s time more young women stood their ground and snubbed such creeps by saying, “ Hello!!! Uncleji… you are certainly not like my father. Now, get your filthy hands off me and behave yourself before I start screaming!”  If more girls were to do that,  there would be less Tejpals in our midst. Of course, in the case of Namo and Priyanka, the story has an entirely different subtext. Modi’s detractors didn’t waste a minute before pouncing on his generalized quote on daughters standing by their families (which is an entirely fair statement to make). It was maliciously twisted to suggest he had referred to Priyanka as his daughter! Tch! Tch! Who said this wasn’t going to be down and dirty fight? Perhaps it was a shrewdly thought out strategy to disarm the rival camp…. after all, the entry of  Priyanka Gandhi was the ultimate masterstroke (no matter that the timing was hopelessly off). Rahul had already been written off  as a threat to Modi, in any case. Then along came this one woman army - Revolver Rani clad  in Khadi -  spewing  fire and giving it back to Namo, taunt for taunt! That must have shaken up the Modi bhakts, who hastily regrouped to come up with a strong Plan B. But before they could move ahead with it, the Congresswallas went into attack mode with the ‘Beti’ remark.  Capitalising on the confusion, Priyanka struck back and pointed out that her father Rajiv Gandhi had ‘sacrificed his life for the country’. She made Rajiv Gandhi, the ultimate martyr and regained control of the situation. Unfortunately, this move backfired. If there are red faces around, they belong to the Congress.

As they say, all is fair in love, war and politics.   No doubt Priyanka is on a roll, wading into crowds, ticking off her minders, and doing what she does best – connecting with people. It’s all good. But what can the poor woman do with Pink Panther – her hubby, Robert Vadra? Did the Congress campwallas realize the implication of that ‘she’s like my daughter’ controversy which would have   automatically made Mr. Vadra, Narendra Modi’s ‘damaadji’?! Ha ha ha!
This appeared in Asian Age...
                India to move from an Accidental P.M to an Overbearing P.M…?
Now that we know Manmohan Singh really and truly didn’t want the top job second time over ( Thank you, Sanjay Baru), but was forced to accept the wretched position ( boo hoo), it is time to worry. For starters, I find it hard to swallow that anybody can be pushed /coerced/ cajoled/ bullied into saying, “Yes’ to such an irresistible job offer. It’s a little like buying into those old Bollywood stories involving the notorious casting couch. There are any number of highly successful female stars today who claim they were forced to play ball with lecherous producers/directors/music composers/script writers/ cameramen/ and a small army of nasty, badmaash power brokers in the business , before bagging an important role. Remember that old line – “Hai! Hai! Meri majboori?”. Does Manmohan Singh’s predicament sound familiar? Okay, that said, Singh’s projection as a man allergic to the power of the kursi, but merely performing his national duty under duress, is most unbelievable. Hey…wait a minute, having accepted the damn job, wasn’t he obliged to do it well …. or, even at all?
Right now, we are dealing with two chaps who are both aiming for Manmohan Singh’s position. One chap can be called an Overbearing P.M. ( if he makes it). And the other, the Reluctant P.M. ( only a major miracle will get him the coveted kursi). What a choice, my  countrymen! Unless, of course we are taken off guard yet again by an outsider. Let’s call that person the Unlikely P.M. This candidate could be a man or woman. If  it turns out to be one of our ambitious ladies-in-waiting, then we shall have to ready ourselves for a Heavyweight P.M.  If, on the other hand, we are stuck with the man who has the moolah ( well, there are two contenders in this category), we can call that person the  Incidental P.M. or the Opportunistic P.M. Since this election is all about ‘ullu banao-ing’ the nation, it is the owl that should be declared our national bird henceforth . In all this ‘jhamela’ ( how the Bongs love using this all- purpose word!), we the voters will be forced to play Bewildered Audience, watching a person in the wings carrying cue cards instructing us to clap/laugh/sigh/ yell/cry/ gag/ or merely keep mum.
Last week’s running comedy show threw up just one mega star – Priyanka Gandhi. Now, here’s the thing. Had her Mummyji and Bhaiyya decided to push her directly into the fray, the story would have been dramatically different. Had Priyanka picked up the gauntlet and taken the plunge, she would have stood a pretty good chance of  heading the family business and occupying the  well guarded Gandhi gaddi. As it happens, Priyanka was only co-opted to play a cameo in the multi-crore home production. A little like Salman Khan doing some obscure producer a favour by appearing in the finale of a dud movie. Or, maybe even a Priyanka Chopra performing an item number to please a big ticket filmmaker who has yet to cast her in a magnum opus.Priyanka G is one Gandhi with enough star power to dazzle one billion people. And what does her party  go and do? They save her for the last, hoping her magic dust will fall on her brother and mother. For, if those two lose, it will be the ultimate humiliation for the family. One from which there may be no recovery. That’s why Priyanka! Since quite a few magnetic political figures have nothing more to them than what is loosely called charisma, there is no need to look for any special  gifts or qualifications in Priyanka, either. Surely, her people skills are known to Congress strategists? Surely, they are aware that she makes Rahul look good each time she affectionately hugs him? Surely, her adept handling of media is not a secret? Why then, was Priyanka Gandhi kept under wraps?  Mystery piles up on mystery, where the Gandhis are concerned.There are those who insist it is a personal issue, that cannot be publicly aired. If that is so, one cannot argue with it.Priyanka  is entitled to keep that part of her life personal. But look – it is Priyanka who is the real political animal in the Gandhi parivar. If she has chosen to stay out of full time, active politics, it must be with good reason – emotional/ psychological/medical. So be it. For with her in the fray (and it can still happen). We would have got An Enigmatic P.M.
If all this is sounding alarmingly like the Theatre of the Absurd, worry not, people of India. We have centuries of Jatra/ Nautanki traditions to remind us of our heritage. Indians love melodrama. We like exaggeration. We base our most profound choices on nothing more than intuition. In a fortnight’s time, we will have a brand new government in power. And a brand new Prime Minister sitting in Delhi. While Modi has all but crowned himself  king after casting his vote  in Gandhinagar, it is worth reminding him that a cricket match isn’t over till the last ball is bowled. And there are quite a few fast bowlers still around to take his wicket – mind it!


Unknown said...

Shobha, please stop writing such inane articles and wasting our precious time. As a subscriber of this newspaper, I feel that I should not be subjected to bilge by over-the-hill writers such as you. For the last few years, you have only churned out unadulterated sewage in a bid to attract more readers, but now enough is enough. Your articles are neither funny, nor thought-provoking. Instead they are cringe-inducing. Also you need to move on from Modi-bashing and stop your venal praising of the Gandhi scions.

Pooja Rathore said...

Article on priyanka Gandhi -I liked it,u put it as it is ...PG her star power,congress failing to utilize the same and timing of her entry all wrong..i felt the article realistic,intelligent(full marks for decoding the politics of congress)with touch of humor.

Latha said...

Mannu (the present PM) knew that he will be a lame duck, powerless PM. That's why he was rightly reluctant. The PM's post in a CONgress govt is no 'irresistible' job. The powers were somewhere else.
I love pink panther & albatross. Please do not insult them by comparing them with the 'daamaad'. It is the CONgress itself with its tons & tons of black money & scams that is weighing on the necks of both the kids of the family. Yet they are dragged into the sea for having committed the crime of being born in 'the family'. Nothing to envy there.
I agree that she is as charismatic as her grandmother Mrs Indira G. You can say that she is the Kat (rina Kaif of politics) which is finally out of the bag now. CONgress has no chance of winning the election now, after all the looting & paating they have done for 10 years.
If Modi cannot become the PM despite all the adulations, thanks to the magical number 272+ (seats that anybody has to reach to form the govt), I'd love Jayalalitha to be the next PM. She is convent educated, brilliant, a very quick learner (she is called 'camphor brained for her adeptness in learning), well read, articulate in English & tamil, sportswoman (can play tennis & chess & mind you, can also win !), versatile (well versed in Bharatnatyam & classical music which of course is not required for a PM)& a very good administrator. Of course she has her mood swings & temperaments & has a problem in getting along with people, she being highly ambitious & wants to be heroine no 1 always. She is much better than all the other contenders put together. Unfortunately except in south India nobody knows her qualities. They only know her as a very good actress who chased Dharmendra in 'Izzat" (ruk jaa zaraa) who is a big fat 'amma' now. Pathetic ! My vote is for her if she is in the race for the PM's post.

Unknown said...

Very smart article.
Enjoyed reading it.
We need such articles in this vitiating atmosphere of hatred.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...

Priyanka Gandhi has surely turned out to be a crowd-puller. She is much better than Rahul Gandhi. But where was she all these days? Its like she has come out of the blues.
If she was the prime ministerial candidate,people would have developed more fondness for her.

Unknown said...

I liked your article and enjoyed reading it immensely... but still I have differing views about Priyanka. Maybe she herself is not willing to take politics as a full time career just the way Sonia was initially..If she indeed wanted to make it big in this so called business she should step forward willingly and not only at times when her family is being framed...And since she has not plunged into politics in full swing I doubt she will turn into an enigmatic PM Like u I too appreciate her instant connectivity with the common man but is this enough to run the country?? Experience matters more I guess!!

Anonymous said...

For once, the fair chocolate face of Priyanka has done you in, Shobhaa!

Priyanka, in my opinion, is an enemy agent out to destroy India just as her mother Sonia is.

You must download these links, read and perhaps angrily tick me off:

Rajiv Gandhi, charisma - yes. Kindly download and read:

Talking of charisma - Indiraji had oodles of it. I can say it from personal knowledge.

Unknown said...

Where the hell did you go to school? This is what you write - "Or the party she is willy- nillly ‘belongs’ to." Confine yourself to fluffing that provides food on your table - give up the charade of a writer.

T.J.Mohan said...

In response to the article in Week," the ballad of an abandoned wife" I am certain Modi's tenure as PM is not going to change the status of women or going to reduce the crime against women. These can be encountered only through effective policing. Modi looks like a conservative gujarathi, with Hindu outlook. Ultimately, RSS would implement their pro Hindu policies through Modi govt. One thing is sure, he would help business houses to effectively channel their investments, without beuracratic red tapism and help avoid foreign investors to leave India. Decisions won't take time, but taken quickly. Along with all these goodies we would also receive, terror threats across border. Also, all temple renovations, Hindu slogans etc. His wife status will remain a bad example by a man of his stature.

Janvi said...

I too like Priyanka Gandhi for her charisma but reading such a lengthy blog dilutes the interest of a reader.

Unknown said...

thanks for this wonderful article.
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Viswanath M Padmanabhan said...

Jayalalitha has a very specific and yet diverse electorate. One which she has managed to understand after many a trial and error. But there is undoubtedly a stateswomanesque aura around her. Will she able to be able to or does she want to be PM is a debatable point

Viswanath M Padmanabhan said...

Dear Shobhaa,

Have, am and will always remain a supporter of the freedom of speech clause that everyone seems to be selling in their personal manifestos nowadays.

The first article I read to come from you was the one just after the law enabling any civilian to hoist the national tricolour came out.

Everybody has their bias, and you have yours. And yours actually is a stereotype breaker.

Keep writing.

Nirnaami said...

I also feel the same way.

I do not know why but I cannot but like Priyanka and Rahul gandhi also.

I feel his coterie did not guide Rahul Gandhi well. Plus their alliance with dmk and various factors caused the defeat of their party.

Nevertheless I would be happy to see both Priyanka and Rahul live well.Politics is not the be all and end all of life.

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