This is the case for the most mocked man in the last 5 years.

Rahul Gandhi is an enigma. After the interview with Arnab Goswami before the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2014, his public perception took a major hit and since then he has been the butt of many jokes.

The IT cell of the ruling party made it their full time job (or that was their profile) to malign his reputation over the course of last few years. There are a few charges that people who criticize him make. Let’s look at them.

1. He is a part of a dynasty, so he hasn’t earned it

Well, history is full of people who put their dynasty to good use and to uselessness. Nobody chooses to be a part of dynasty. He was born in the Gandhi family and that’s not his fault. I can cite examples here of people who could have been a successful product of nepotism, but they turned out to be unsuccessful products of nepotism. So, nobody gives a damn.

2. He doesn’t have public speaking skills

He is trying. Over the last few months, he has stood in the parliament and spoken. He has done press conferences, he has spoken to students, taken questions and has stood to criticism.

Check this out.

He has shown that he has the character to take all the criticism by vicious supporters of the ruling establishment in his stride and say what he believes in. He has also admitted and apologised for his statement in the Supreme Court, where he apparently that that ‘SC said that the watchman is a thief.’

He is trying. Being the best Public Speaker is not the top qualification of a leader. Our current PM is an excellent Public Speaker but his leadership skills are for all of us to see.

3. He has no experience

Well, for the sake of a joke, Ukraine just elected a comedian as the country’s President. Secondly, given his background and experience as the vice President of Congress, he has some experience. It is after he became President that Congress won Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh back from the BJP.

4. The Congress is corrupt

This is fair criticism and having grown up in this country, I have encountered corruption everywhere. I have had to pay money to traffic cops, to cops for clearing my passport application, and to other people because they insisted on bribes. Corruption is an unfortunate part of our society, and congress is largely responsible for it, because they have not been able to curb it. This is something we all need to fight together.

But communalism is a deeper malaise. It rots the society and that’s what BJP has done in the last few years. Their politics is based on dividing people on the basis of religion, and instigating riots. They don’t want India to have its secular fabric, and instead see the country as a monolithic Hindu nation.

Having taken on some criticism, now let me make some points.

This is India 2019. The congress has had to taste defeat in the last few years and this should have shaken its overconfidence. Rahul Gandhi is a young leader, given what we have seen of youth in Indian politics.

He is educated, at least compared to Smriti Irani, who is your ex-education minister. He is more educated than the current Prime Minister. He has shown a lot of courage. He has seen constant criticism, in fact ridicule from a large section of the society and has stood his ground.

The Congress needs upheaval as a party. Many of its leaders are educated, and speak in thoughtful language unlike leaders like Pragya Thakur and Sakshi Maharaj.

We need to hold Congress accountable for the promises they are making, and against corruption. But secularism is not a joke. It’s a real thing and between BJP and Congress, it is congress or Rahul Gandhi who will uphold the secular fabric of the country. I am sure even BJP followers will agree, although they don’t want this to happen, I am afraid.

Give Rahul Gandhi a chance. Stop calling him Pappu. He didn’t choose dynasty. Dynasty chose him. He hasn’t shown any hatred towards even the killers of his father. He has done press conferences. In a country where he is mocked every day, he has shown the courage to take the stage, say what he wants to do, and take questions even amidst chants of Modi Modi. Stop calling him Pappu, unless you are a senseless, condescending bhakt whose who only cares about politics of majoritarianism and identity. We have real issues and they need addressed. We need to move beyond mandir masjid politics. This is 2019 for hell’s sake. Sedition is a horrific law. It must be abolished. That’s what Rahul Gandhi has said. It has, and will jeopardize our freedom of speech, if strengthened. He is talking poverty, employment, entrepreneurship, and not digging in identity politics.

He may succeed, and we may be a better nation. I am taking the bait for Pappu. You may call me what you will.

Let me close this post with a story I wrote recently at Lucknow Airport.

“The flight is late. Indigo is trying to act cool about the delay being the most ‘punctual’ airline. The guy next to me is talking to the guy in front of me in the bus, in English and Hindi. There is a nun sitting next to him, shy of something I can’t understand. A Sardar-Sardarni old couple is sitting on the opposite row. Sardarni aunty is incessantly talking on phone and uncle is giving her the’kiven palle pai gayi’ look. A couple of South Indian men are talking in a South Indian language, a combination of Telugu, Kannada and Tamil, which I obviously can’t understand. The Delhi girl next to the nun is typing feverishly on WhatsApp as if it will change her life. I am now on the aircraft. The man next to me had my window seat replaced. His wife with a headscarf has taken my window seat and now I am on the aisle. Their son Atif is now sitting on the middle seat in the next row because that’s as much I could do for them- leave my window seat. The flight is about to depart and one of the crew from North East is asking me to put my phone on airplane mode. I will post it after…. “

The chaos of diversity, or the beauty of it. This is mine, and our India.

Let’s not change that. Vote for secularism, and Rahul Gandhi or the Congress is the only alternative we have, at the moment.

Jai Hind!

Author, Stand Up Comedian. Trying to make people happier, one post, one show a time.