Watching Mandela’s memorial service I couldn’t help but wonder if he was the last of the great leaders who fought for freedom and equality and then went on to be a moral force for not only their country but for the rest of the world. The only current leader who is in his league is probably Aung San Su Kyi but she is yet to be tested as a democratically elected leader and on the push and pull of daily politics. The other possible candidate, and Nobel prize winner, is Dalai Lama and he is destined to live his life in exile without overcoming the Chinese resistance to Tibetan self-rule. The galaxy of leaders who showed up at Mandela’s service was as eclectic as the Obama-Cameron selfie was self-indulgent.

I wonder what Mandela would have made of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and their better than expected showing at the Delhi elections. The two main political parties pretend to be surprised because if they really foresaw the rise of the AAP then the question would be why they did leave that much political space that the AAP has gratefully occupied. The media, which apparently, has his figure on the pulse and claims to understand its readers/viewers mostly didn’t foresee the rise of the AAP. The pollsters, barring one or two, couldn’t forecast accurately the number of seats that AAP would get.  The only people who saw AAP coming were the voters who live the daily grind and jumped on the only credible alternative to the big two parties. They must be really desperate or really irritated of the big 2 or both that they chose a party that has no track record of governance and frankly there is no way of knowing that it would exist even two years from now. I am not sure if the AAP will end up forming the government, but even by getting to this stage they have changed the rules of politics for the better. More power to them.

Which gets me nicely to the Gandhi family that has mostly set the rules of politics in India since independence. It is not often one gets an insight into the family members but a few incidents over the last year stand out for me. One was the son-in-law Robert Vadra, breaking his silence, and  calling the AAP as mango people in a banana republic. I would really want to hear from him again now. The second, was Sonia Gandhi going to the US for medical treatment and no media outlet was willing to talk about her medical condition, how bad it is and where is she being treated. The third, was the scion Rahul Gandhi tearing up an ordinance in a press conference which the Congress spokesman had been defending only minutes ago and after he said what he had to say it was clear to everyone that the ordinance was effectively dead. It was in these and some other moments that it dawned upon me that the Gandhi family live a life which brings together privilege, public respect and privacy and they would happily appoint a prime minister and control him from behind the scenes rather than thrust themselves to the front. This is exactly why the Congress doesn’t have a PM candidate and will probably go into general elections without one.

This is exactly why the Congress will also lose the next general election. Because the family keeps itself aloof and is not open to scrutiny that the other parties are subject to, because the scion has been selected for his name rather than any qualification or experience and no one quite knows where he stands on major issues facing the country and even worse he behaves as if it is his birth right to govern the country. If the party doesn’t mend its ways quickly and choose a better leader it will find itself losing more ground to the opposition.