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So tell us, Priyanka - The Indian Express

Jayaditya Gupta ()
February 20, 1998

Title: So tell us, Priyanka
Author: Jayaditya Gupta
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 20, 1998

It's all so much fun. And so easy. Just hitch a ride on one of
those jets your mother uses, take cover behind her steely visage,
lap up the adoration of the crowds and then, with flashlights
popping, walk up to the mike and say a sentence or two in
whatever language they speak out there.

It must be easy, it must be fun, because we've seen you, your
husband and now your brother as well, laughing, smiling, waving.
No big-time Hollywood star ever played an easier crowd. Sooner or
later you might have to reconcile with the fact that they don't
really want to hear your mother at all, but you'll get over that
discomfiture easily. You should. It's in your blood.

But isn't it nice to have such family parties, right across the
country? Of course, it's a punishing schedule - if it's Monday,
it must be Mangalore - but the rigours of the tour schedule the
lackeys prepare pale in comparison to the highs of
electioneering.

You must be a very trusting person, asking for votes without
bothering to question who those votes will benefit. We
understand. The nitty-gritty of actually meeting candidates and
deciding if they're worthy of your support is not something you
should be doing. That's for the Little People.

Do you ever wonder, when you're up there on the stage, what this
is all about? What, when you strip away the glamour, the
adulation, the Z category security, do these elections mean? And
what will happen if the party nurtured by your father and mother
and uncle and grandmother and great-grandfather (we'll stop
there) actually wins?

What will you do then? Will you go back to your government
bungalow in Delhi, back to the elite, discreet lifestyle, and
leave the rest of us to deal with the harvest you've sown? You
will, of course, emerge five years later; rather, youl be
trotted out by the same people who are trotting you out today.

Or will you actually deign to soil your hands and take on the
reins of the Youth Congress, as almost everyone in the hapless
party wants you to? A nice family tradition. Your uncle did it,
your grandmother did it. The Nehru-Gandhi Finishing School
carries on for another generation.

But those were different times. Your uncle enjoyed himself in
that position because he had a mother who looked the other way;
your grandmother could because the whole nation looked the other
way. Times have changed, and though the spotlight is still on
your family it's a harsher light.

Imagine what a drag it would be; boring committee meetings,
boring agendas to set, even more boring agendas to follow. Sooner
or later you would have to deal, first-hand, with all those
people you can now afford to ignore. Sooner or later you'll
realise that there is something called accountability. And,
unfortunately, sooner or later you'll see that you're not so well-
liked (Yes, that day will come. It happened to everyone in your
family).

So tell us, Priyanka, what goes on? Who are you asking us to
root for? Are you part of that set-up, will you share the rap
for their screw-ups? Or are you asking us to vote for you? And
if so, what do you represent? What are your dreams for our
country, what are your plans for its future?
I think you don't know what's going on. Yes, you know there's an
election going on, and that you have to pitch in, but you're not
looking beyond that, are you?

I think you're playing with lives here, playing with our dreams,
our plans for the future. If you are, and if you get caught, you
could regret it.

Politics, Priyanka, is serious business. It's more than rides on
helicopters and a self-assured wave; it's about responsibility,
about answering for things you have done (not exactly a family
trait, but you could be a quick learner).

So tell us what you're all about. Tell us why you support the
party you campaign for. Tell us what's in it for you. Tell us,
Priyanka, before it's too late for either of us.


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