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Rahul Gandhi clutched the edges of the podium, rearranging the sinewy threads on his striated forearms. He took a deep breath and stared into the eyes of the assembled listeners.
“Because poverty is just a state of mind, and if you are confident, you can overcome it,” he declared.
Even as members in the audience gawked at Rahul and then turned to look at one another to confirm if they had indeed heard what they heard, thousands of citizens across the country whooped in glee and began to type out the first of many #YoRahulSoDumb jokes on Twitter…
“Yeah. Look at his eyes!”
“There’s such intelligence in them.”
“Yes,” smiled the father. “Tell me mother, how’s your preparation for the elections coming along?”
She sighed. “Well, it’s okay, but I am yet to come up with a central theme that my campaign will revolve around…”
Mother and son turned to the baby in surprise.
“Baba, did you just say your first word?” cooed his grandmother.
The baby giggled. “Gar… gar…”
“Yes, gar..gar..gar,” she laughed, tickling him.
“Garibi hatao,” said the baby with sudden lucidity.
The smile vanished from Indira Gandhi’s face. Eyes wide, she turned tremblingly to her son.
“That’s it,” she whispered. “That’s the slogan. How did Baba…”
The two stared at the smiling baby in dumbfounded amazement.
Sam Pitroda fidgeted in his seat. “Sir, if you put it that way, I have no argument…”
“Well then, it’s decided. We will have nothing to do with this computer business.”
As Rajiv proceeded to see Sam out of the room, a voice called out. “Dad, I think you’re making a mistake!”
The two gentlemen turned towards the teenager hunched over a chessboard in a corner.
Rahul looked up. “Computers are going to be far more important that you think. In a decade, information technology is what will separate a developed nation from a third world country, an innovator from an also-ran. Not just that, I foresee a Telecom revolution in the near future. International calls will get so cheap that a whole new industry will spring up in the developing nations helping companies in the developed nations with various administrative tasks. India, with its education obsessed middle class, will be in a great position to take advantage of this.”
As the two adults stood there, seemingly unsure of how to react, Rahul reached into his pocket, pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Sam. “Also I drew up a 20 year plan for the Telecom sector that should ensure that every family has a mobile phone within 2 decades.”
“This…this is incredibly detailed,” stammered Sam Pitroda, thumbing the sheet. “Wow, I never thought of all this, Rahul…”
Rajiv looked from Rahul to Sam to Rahul again, and smiled broadly. “Okay, I’m sold. Let’s embrace it!”
Sam heaved a sigh of relief. Turning to Rajiv, Sam said. “Sir, we have someone really special here. In him I see Pandit Nehru’s intelligence, Indira ji’s iron will and your charisma. He shows all signs of being the greatest Gandhi ever!”
“I know,” Rajiv smiled, ruffling Rahul’s tousled hair. Rahul glowed under his father’s praise.
“Rahul will ensure that the Gandhi family will rule this country for at least another 50 years,” said Rajiv.
As Rajiv and Pitroda walked away, they failed to notice the frown that had materialized on Rahul’s brow.
Sonia stared straight ahead.
“Our forex reserves are at an all-time low. We can barely afford three weeks of imports…”
Sonia didn’t respond.
She abruptly stood up. “I don’t care! My family has still not recovered from our grief. I don’t want you bothering us with your petty issues. Get out!” she screamed.
The bald man slowly got up, folded his palms in a namaste and lumbered out of the room, meekly followed by his turbaned companion. Just as they stepped out of the apartment, the turbaned man uttered a soft ‘Aaah!’ and grabbed the back of his neck. Oblivious, the bald man continued walking towards his car, while the turbaned man stopped in his tracks and turned around.
There was no one behind him. He looked down at his feet and found a crumpled piece of paper. He picked it up and straightened it out. One word was scrawled on it.
The turbaned man looked around once again, only to find the emptiness stare back at him. “Theek hai,” he mumbled and turned to leave the apartment.
From behind a pillar, a dimpled young man watched the minister depart and exhaled, “Phew! That was close.”
“What is good for this nation, I ask myself…” Rahul wrote in his diary. “And the answer is obvious. To be a true democracy, the nation must rid itself of dynasty politics. For if there is no democracy within the parties contesting elections, how can the country be democratic in the true sense? But how do I go about ridding the country of…ourselves?”
“It’s been three years since I entered politics. And with every positive move I make, with every firm step I take towards building a better nation, the clamour for me to lead the nation has only grown louder! What then, after I become the PM? My son or daughter will carry on the mantle? And after that, my grandson or granddaughter? When will this end? Herein lies my dilemma – the more I add value to the nation, the deeper I entrench my family into the corridors of power.”
“No… I cannot be myself. For the sake of my beloved nation, I must sacrifice myself. I must sacrifice who I am, and persevere to be the exact opposite of what God made me…”
Rahul stared at the page as minutes ticked by.
Rahul’s countenance abruptly changed. A steely resolve glinted in his eyes. He tore the page from the diary, crumpled it into a ball and flung it into the hearth, and watched the flames swallow the only evidence of his terrible vow.
On a fresh page, Rahul began writing the first of the many ideas of the new Rahul.
“Politics is in your shirt, in your pants…”
PS: The UnReal Times has submitted this article to prestigious Congress portal, HamaraCongress.com, and is still waiting for a response from Sanjay Jha.