POWER IS A POISON
Gandhis confuse themselves – and the nation
In his maiden speech at Jaipur after accepting the post of Vice-President of the Indian National Congress, Mr. Rahul Gandhi on January 20, 2013 said: "Last night… My mother came to my room and she sat with me and she cried... because she understands that power so many people seek is actually a poison.” (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/my-mother-cried-she-understands-power-is-poison-rahul/article4326095.ece)
It is difficult to fathom this philosophy of "power" being "a poison", particularly because politics is a game of power in which every winner gets the trophy of power and, further, nobody likes his hard work to be crowned with the booty of "poison".
Politicians are not saints who meditate and suffer in silence in jungles and high hills renouncing every comfort and pleasure in their zest to realise the Divine. They are men and women of this very world who, like saints, can renunciate and sacrifice everything, even their principles and morals, but only to propitiate the goddess of power.
If politicians have not to "chase" and "seek power", what for on earth are they here? If a person is chasing a beautiful woman neither for her love, nor for her company or for marriage, what for is he following her then?
Equally difficult is it to fathom the import and substance of the message did she want to convey to her son. Was she beckoning him to desist from the path to attain power he had embarked upon? Or did she want her son not to taste power which, to her, was "a poison"? If power is a "poison” why should she make him Vice-President of the Party and make him chase "power" which is "poison"?
In retrospect, it looks as if both Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi have come to believe that by just making him the Vice-President of the Party, the Party has bestowed him power which, in political parlance, is only political power which, in Mrs. Gandhi's own words," so many people seek is actually a poison.” But "power" is not conferred by political bosses and parties. In a democracy, it is – and can be – accorded by the people and people alone. One attains power only when voted into office through an election and elections to the Lok Sabha are about 15 months away and – for that matter, even Mrs. Sonia Gandhi – has not so far declared publically that he is the party's prime ministerial face.
Further, when Mr. Rahul has been enlightened by his mother that "power is a poison" why should she allow him to taste it and why should he do so?
Mr. Rahul earned a great applause even from PM Dr. Manmohan Singh when he said “We should not chase power, only use it to empower others.” But that too remains incomprehensible because one cannot "empower others" just by not chasing "power". It is only after first winning and possessing power that one can be capable enough to "empower others". How can a powerless person empower others?
In democracy, it is the people who have the ultimate power. In an election they delegate their power to individuals and political parties of their choice and empower these organizations to rule over them. But if the people themselves do not possess this power, how can they empower others to run and rule the country?
Mr. Rahul went on to say that his mother could see that power is poison “because she is not attached to it. The only antidote to this poison for all of us (is) to see what it really is and not become attached to it. We should not chase power for the attributes of power. We should only use it to empower the voices.”
To say that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi could see that power is poison "because she is not attached to it" seems farcical in the face of reality of the situation. Moreover, it remains beyond comprehension because she is still seen pushing her son to the pinnacle of power which she sees as "poison".
Mr. Gandhi – and his mother – seem to have had in their mind the tragedies that befell on them following the unfortunate assassinations, first of his grand-mother Mrs. Indira Gandhi as prime minister in 1984 and, later, of his father former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. Perils are an essential part of life and more so of political one. Every individual and family, all over the world, whosoever seeks the luxury and glamour of power is exposed to these dangers and risks.
Tragedies and assassinations have visited individuals and families which were elected to power in democracies, in monarchical regimes, and even on dictators who usurped power through the gun and perpetuated it with terror and tyranny. Yet, that has never been able to prevent people from embarking on a voyage to seek power for fear of it being a "poison".Therefore, whether it is a "poison" or not, persons like Mr. Rahul Gandhi will continue to "chase power" and they will always remain "attached to it". His grand-mother Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi did chase power and got it. They did "become attached to it" and wished to cling to it as long as they could. Therefore, whatever the rhetoric, the fact remains that both Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi will continue to remain always "attached to power". That it is a "poison" could just be a sermon for others – and not for Mr. Rahul – to follow.