Wednesday, May 22, 2024

King’s Indian defence leaves Queen’s gambit reeling


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Smriti Irani loses vvip tag with Rahul’s Raebareli move

By Sushil Kutty

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s move to shift battleground from Amethi to Raebareli is a King’s defence. Chess great Garry Kasparov, however, didn’t seem to agree. He cracked his “little joke” on the Gandhi family scion even while stating that Indian politics shouldn’t take his “advocacy or expertise” seriously. Garry Kasporav, like so many others who walk upright, appeared surprised that Gandhi had it in him to think strategically.
For moving the constituency from Amethi to Raebareli was application of mind which is how top chess masters play the game. People, however, forget chess is an Indian invention and it was only later that the rest of the world discovered Chess.
Today, a whole lot of nationalities play Chess but Russia and Russians somehow make us believe they make the best moves.
Garry Kasparov should take back his “little joke” and apologise to the Wayanad MP. Kasparov should have said, “First win Wayanad before challenging for the top.” Garry forgot that the 54-year-old was around when the 61-year-old was playing serious chess at the turn of the millennium. Do not forget there is also Wayanad, apart from Amethi and the original Gandhi family pocket-borough Raebareli. By completely forgetting Wayanad, Garry willy-nilly showed Wayanad its place. Kerala’s safe haven for Rahul Gandhi is yet to get its due, the Gandhi family “pocket-borough” tag, which is reserved only for Amethi and Raebareli.
But Kasporav can be forgiven for not knowing India and Indian elections like he would the face of a chessboard. “I very much hope my little joke does not pass for advocacy or expertise in Indian politics! But as an ‘all-seeing monster with 1000 eyes,’ as I was once described, I cannot fail to see a politician dabbling in my beloved game,” the once-upon a time world chess champion responded in ‘X’.
Chess became a topic when the Congress circulated a video-clip of Rahul making his chess moves while confessing that Kasparov was his favourite chess player. This before an X user wisecracked: “Feel so relieved that @Kasparov63 and @vishy64theking retired early and didn’t have to face the greatest chess genius of our times.” The X-man was referring to Rahul Gandhi, not to Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Amethi MP Smriti Irani. Modi and Irani have been mocking Rahul Gandhi for ditching Amethi and choosing Raebareli. Prime Minister Narendra Modi actually wasted precious time on the campaign circuit questioning Rahul Gandhi’s “darr”.
And Irani spent half an hour elaborating on how she was “humiliated for 10 long years” because she dared to take on the “mighty Gandhi family”. For no reason at all, Irani played the victim and the TV guy kept giving her certificates of courage. It was an anachronism and it was quite clear Irani did not like Rahul Gandhi’s move to Raebareli.
It robbed her of relevance. Rahul Gandhi was Irani’s ticket to fame, her celebrity status. Suddenly, following Rahul Gandhi’s move to Raebareli, Irani was just another BJP candidate. And minus Rahul Gandhi, Amethi too was reduced to one among 543 parliamentary constituencies. Is Amethi a VVIP constituency any longer? Ask Garry Kasporav and he would baulk, pointing at Raebareli and commenting, “first win Raebareli…” Irani, left in Amethi, already misses the “giant killer” tag that she got when beating Rahul Gandhi. Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi give Smriti Irani the same pride of place by his side as he did after she defeated Rahul Gandhi?
Chances are dim. Smriti Irani now faces a familiar face in Amethi; somebody who has been a fixture in the Gandhi family constituency for decades. A sort of constituency caretaker for the Nehru-Gandhi family. By nominating this faceless personality to contest from Amethi, the Congress has reduced the Amethi contest into an ordinary race. Smriti Irani can’t attack Rahul Gandhi, which has been her staple for a decade, any longer to garner brownie points.
No wonder, Irani seemed lost in the woods. The man she will beat, if she beats, has no face or name recognition beyond the constituency boundary of Amethi. People have already lost interest in the Amethi contest with focus shifting to Raebareli. Will Garry Kasparov understand the importance of this relegation? Kasparov’s move to Croatia from Russia saved his life. Will Rahul Gandhi’s shift to Raebareli save the Gandhi family’s standing in Indian politics?
Voters of Wayanad are waiting for June 4, when Rahul Gandhi will have to choose one from Wayanad and Raebareli if he wins both, in which case, chances are he will dump Wayanad for Raebareli. There is something about Raebareli which Wayanad will never have and there is something about a Gandhi family candidate that a Smriti Irani will never have. (IPA Service)


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