state of GUTTER matrimonial politics in decomposing Bharat
Date: 07 May 2008
To woo UP, Rahul should tie Dalit knot
4 May 2008
A reader, Harish C Sood of Bareilly, has suggested an
admirable strategy for the Congress to revive its flagging fortunes in
UP, that traditional crucible of Indian politics: Rahul Gandhi should
enter into a matrimonial alliance with a Dalit.
The proclaimed 'Yuvraj' of the Congress party, Rahul should
emulate kings and emperors the world over who have used marriage as an
instrument with which to forge links with other principalities and
powers to help them extend their own domains.
The Great Mughul, Akbar, was a master of such crown
matrimonials, which he used to great effect in winning over his arch
adversaries, the Rajputs, and turning them into samdhis , in-law allies,
who could be trusted to buttress his rule.
Today, the bitterest opponent of the Congress in UP is
Mayawati. After Rahul tried to storm the once and future Congress
citadel of UP - which Behenji now rules with an imperial aplomb
reminiscent of Catherine the Great, Czarina of Russia in her heyday -
the BSP leader scornfully threw cold water on the fervour the Yuvraj had
sought to inspire in local voters by alleging that he used a 'special
soap' to wash himself after he'd had any contact with Dalits.
Nor is Mayawati the only one to paint Rahul in an anti-Dalit
light. From the other end of the political spectrum, the fiery Uma
Bharti, former Madhya Pradesh CM and president of the Bhartiya Jan
Shakti, accused Rahul of viewing not just UP but the whole of India as
'a Dalit country', adducing as a reason for her charge the rumour that
the great white hope of the Congress was 'interested' in a Venezuelan.
"This is the reason he is not getting married here," said Umaji.
A serious charge - even if untrue - and seriously must
India's No 1 Bachelor address it. The crux of the problem of course is
the so-called Dalit vote. Once a staple of the consolidated Congress
vote bank - which also commodiously accommodated Hindu upper castes,
Muslims and other minorities - the Dalit vote has, at least in UP, been
almost totally usurped by the BSP. How is the Congress to get it back?
And the answer, suggested by the would-be matchmaker from Bareilly, is
simple and obvious: the Congress Yuvraj must find a Dalit Yuvrani .
By putting his matrimonial vows where his vote bank is,
Rahul could effectively position himself as India's counterpart of US
presidential hopeful Barak Obama, a symbol of sweeping and profound
social change. By making himself the official son-in-law of the Dalit
community, the Congress general secretary could well transform the
political and physical landscape of UP, where the ubiquitous blue-suited
Ambedkar statues might be replaced with knight-in-shining-armour Rahul
Is Rahul prepared to marry for Congress and country? The
proposed alliance would be not just a shot in the arm for the wilting
Congress but would prove a potent antidote to the endemic bane of
casteism, with all Dalits legitimately claiming conjugal connection if
not actual kinship with the First Family of the land.
So how about it, Rahul? Should we go ahead and put it in the
matrimonials? "Country's most eligible bachelor with promising future
career in family-run business seeks suitable, homely, Dalit life
partner. Strictly no dowry. Behenjis please excuse."
(Readers are invited to make suggestions for this column by
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to Second Opinion,
The Times of India, 7, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi-110103.)