“Thank You” visits to their constituencies are the norm for newly-elected members of Parliament, still there was special significance to the recent trip to Wayanad for the Congress president ~ he still holds that office ~ after his stunning defeat in the family backyard in Amethi.
Yet what made Rahul Gandhi’s Kerala sojourn truly memorable for some people was his taking time out from the constant bickering of contemporary politics, and being gracious enough to meet the former nurse who had tended to him in a New Delhi hospital soon after he was born in 1970.
Like so many nurses from Kerala working away from home, Rajamma Vavathil was serving at the Holy Family Hospital when his mother, Sonia, was “due.” Rajamma was among the first of the nurses who carried the new born Rahul: and, now 72 years of age and living out her retirement in Wayanad, she was thrilled he had opted to meet her at the guesthouse at which he was staying.
She took him a simple gift, some sweets and jackfruit-chips, spent some time at the guest-house where a few photographs were taken. She fondly recalled the incident, telling those present that Rajiv and Sanjay were at the hospital too. On the face of it that incident was normal, but how many VIPs care to remember such simple things in their “motivation-oriented” lives ~ particularly since no suggestions have emerged that it was a choreographed, publicity-stunt.
Thoughts do go back decades ago when the “Frontier Gandhi” visited India. His meagre belongings were carried in a small cloth bundle, and when he arrived at Delhi airport Prime Minister Indira Gandhi insisted on carrying it herself. The point being made is that politicians do have their human side too, alas they refrain from displaying it lest they be seen as weak, not deserving of high office. Or the stories are twisted by a sensation-seeking media: remember the storm when Rajiv and Sonia donned blue-jeans and “shook a leg” when on a visit to the North-east?
Or when Rajiv stopped his car to try his luck at parasailing at the erstwhile Delhi Flying Club? Unfortunately, far too many such events are stage-managed for publicity: it used to be quite common for VIPs to deliberately breach security protocols to create an impression of “mingling with the people”. Rahul has promised his nurse that he would meet her again now that Wayanad was his adopted home: his sincerity will be on test.
More so because of the criticism that he had done so little for Amethi. Rahul has been prone to stunts too, like riding a motorcycle without using a safety-helmet and dodging the cops, or spending a night in a poor household but not returning thereafter. Yet using the nurse who tended to him as an infant would be uncommon cruelty, and Wayanad would feel awfully short-changed if that were the case. Thankfully, it does not seem so.