Good morning, namaste and happy birthday Priyanka!
As you turn forty two on this bracing winter day in New Delhi and your Congress cadres await the announcement of a much hoped for transition in your life, namely, of your assuming the mantle of Rahul Gandhi’s campaign political manager and being named party vice-president, I have just one word to say to you — Don’t.
Don’t enter the fray. Don’t give the beleaguered and besieged Congress a shot in its arm; don’t give the media and TV talking heads one more issue to discuss on prime time and notch up their TRPs; don’t give the paparazzi one more opportunity to capture those attractive pictures of you in beautiful handloom saris or pared down European trousers entering Parliament; don’t give fashionistas a chance to make it to the serious sections of the dailies with their faux thoughtful middles on ‘what Priyanka’s style statement means for the nation’; don’t give Subramanian Swamy and the rest of your virulent critics one more reason to drag your husband and his business deals through the coals. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Because if you look around, dear Priyanka, there is a new dawn that’s breaking over Delhi and the rest of the nation. It’s called the ‘Aam Aadmi Party’ and it’s brought in hope and change and a blossoming of optimism in even the most cynical of hearts.
I hear it everywhere, when the rich and vile subvert justice and fair play; I hear those who have, for decades, been thwarted chuckle ever so softly: Aam Admi aayegi! When common folk are pushed aside by the bombast of fat cats and big bosses, I see the look on their faces: Aam Aadmi jeetega.
And when talking heads and my colleagues in the media rue the fact that the nation is caught between a corrupt but secular UPA and a relatively clean but communal BJP, I too find myself whispering. “But there is an alternative: the Aam Aadmi party.” Why would you want to thwart such a blossoming of buoyancy, such an escalation of good feeling, such a multiplicity of promise, Priyanka?
Yes, of course, there’s your legendary loyalty to the Congress — the party to which your great grandfather, your grandmother, your parents and your brother have dedicated their lives. And of course there’s your unquestionable love for your mother and brother and, therefore, the commitment that arises out of that love to their ambition of making him the Prime Minister of this great nation.
But Priyanka, that time is not now.
Your brother will do well to sit it out in the Opposition for four years; to cut his teeth in the gruelling rough-and-tumble of a party out of power. He will witness the unedifying and unseemly politics of the powerless, he will learn who his real friends are and who can be depended on when the chips are down. Your father’s years out of power taught him so many valuable lessons.
Your mother too, will get some much-needed rest. With the spotlight off her and the UPA, she will be able to tend to her health, to her family and to her beloved cottage in the hills and its garden.
Away from the clamour and often odious presence of her partymen, she will get the much-needed hours to engage with her inner voice. Perhaps it will tell her things that will surprise us all.
And you Priyanka, if you were to resist attempts to co-opt you into assuming a larger role in your party to fulfill the ambition of its members, you will get time to spend with your family, pursue your own interest in photography and wildlife, and perhaps watch from the sidelines as a new India takes shape. It is the same India that your forefathers built, a brave, strong graft-free and inclusive India that’s taking shape again. That it is being shaped by other leaders and other faces is but a small detail.
I wish you a very happy birthday and may it be your best year yet!
Yours sincerely etc
Malavika Sangghvi can be contacted at malavikasangghvi @hotmail.com
The writer believes in the art of letter writing