The heir-apparent frozen in an eternal wait for the promised crown—it’s a common enough phenomenon in royal houses the world over. India’s democracy, still not wholly free of the old feudal consciousness, has its own version. The wait was supposed to end, but even waiting for that final closure is becoming a waiting game unto itself. The BJP’s Gujarat campaign had a dig at that recently. When the Election Commission barred the party from using the word ‘Pappu’ in an electronic advertisement, deeming it derogatory, the campaign team promptly replaced it with ‘Yuvraj’. Rahul Gandhi’s attempts at an image makeover may have helped him shrug off the Pappu tag, but his party seems reluctant to elevate him from the status of yuvraj.
When will Rahul Gandhi take over as Congress president? It’s a question nobody has an answer to. From “after the Gujarat elections” and “anytime now” to “before the year ends”, the answer yo-yos from one leader to another. Much like the BJP, where only PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah know exactly what is happening, in the Congress too, it’s only the family troika—Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul—who can give a definite answer to the ascension question.