Waiting for Rahul “Godot” Gandhi


“Estragon peers out into the audience and comments on the bleakness of his surroundings.

He wants to depart but is told that they cannot because they must wait for Godot.

The pair cannot agree, however, on whether or not they are in the right place or that this is the arranged day for their meeting with Godot; they are not even sure what day it is.

Throughout the play, experienced time is attenuated, fractured or eerily non-existent. The only thing that they are fairly sure about is that they are to meet at a tree: there is one nearby.”

The absurdist play, “Waiting for Godot“, by Samuel Beckett it would seem has an echo in the current state of the Congress Party’s politics.

Yesterday when Professors Jagadish Bhagawati and Arvind Panagariya painted this bleak picture for the future of the Congress Party, it was met with much skepticism on twitter:

the Nehru-Gandhi condominium that has dominated Indian politics has itself undermined the party’s survival prospects by making it immensely difficult for it to recruit and develop new leaders. It is common knowledge that, for the last eight years, Sonia Gandhi has exercised virtually total control within the party. As a result, no rival to Rahul Gandhi has emerged.

With Sonia Gandhi in ill health, Rahul unable to connect to the electorate even in his historically “safe” constituency, and the Nehru-Gandhi brand name having lost its appeal, the prospects for the Congress in 2014 look bleak

That was yesterday, but today’s remarks by Salman Kursheed in the Indian Express confirm why in fact those prospects are bleak:

“The fact is that he is undoubtedly and unquestionably the number two leader in the party. Yet he has not taken up the mantle or accepted a functional responsibility. He is so far not willing to accept the number two position. In such a situation, we have to wait. This is a waiting time,” Khurshid said.

Salman Kurshid’s “waiting for Rahul Gandhi” resembles “Waiting for Godot” in so many ways, especially the paralysis from politics to policy:

 what else they might do to pass the time. Estragon suggests that they hang themselves, but they abandon the idea when it seems that they might not both die: leaving one of them alone, an intolerable notion. They decide to do nothing: “It’s safer,” explains Estragon

This “play it safe”, “do nothing” strategy to political management has seen the Congress go from confusion to chaos in Andhra while drifting from crisis to crisis in Delhi since 2009.

But there is yet another tragic comic parallel to “Waiting for Godot” in the farce that the Congress has reduced managing the economy to – from “talking up reforms” to  fantasizing about “wakened animal spirits”. As the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his economic team go round in circles on their plans for the economy one is reminded of this  :

….boy returns to inform them not to expect Godot today, but promises he will arrive the next day.

The two again consider suicide but their rope, Estragon’s belt, breaks in two when they tug on it. Estragon’s trousers fall down, but he does not notice until Vladimir tells him to pull them up. They resolve to bring a more suitable piece and hang themselves the next day, if Godot fails to arrive.

Come 2014 whether the bleak outlook prognosticated by Profs Bhagawati and Panagariya bears out is an open question, but one thing is clear – the wait for Rahul “Godot” Gandhi to arrive is increasingly beginning to look like this:

the two men have been waiting for an indefinite period and will likely continue to wait ad infinitum. After the boy departs, they decide to leave but make no attempt to do so

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