Vulture tourism by definition is “travel to destinations that are cheap, safe, exotic, and unpopular because of some recent bad news”. Its basically a visit to ground zero of a recent tragedy and chances are when undertaken by famous people its a lip smacking opportunity for media to capture endless live footage, get into gory details , discuss threadbare the nuances of the situation, amplify the grief and loss suffered in wake of a tragedy. But mind you , none of it is to capture the “true story” as thundered by dead serious looking anchors in TV studios but instead the idea is to keep on feeding the ever hungry 24 hour relentless machine in form of news channels. That is what amplifies the tragedy , makes it part of reality of millions sitting at home watching the idiot box.
In India political landscape post 2014, this practice has suddenly found a new lease of life . The credit of this singularly lies with the principal opposition party – Indian National Congress. Visiting sites of tragedy by politicians or to score political points is not something new and even Mr. Modi himself visited Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attack sites to underline weak central as well as state governments. However one may argue that Mr. Modi held a constitutional position and had a history of showing up at places and events which were of national importance. He was one of the few politicians who visited Kargil in 1999 before he was CM of Gujarat to express solidarity with armed forces.
In last 3 years however the way Congress has pushed the pedal on this practice clearly beats all the precedents. Leading the charge from Congress end is Mr. Rahul Gandhi who desperately is running out of time to leave political mark . Looking at an uncertain future with him at helm and with dwindling fortunes of Congress , this practice seems to be the only few aces that are left with the grand old party’s strategists. Whether it was visiting Pro Azadi gang in JNU , visiting Rohit Vemula’s family , visiting Dadri and today’s attempt to visit the center of farmers protest Mandsaur , Rahul Gandhi today is the undisputed brand ambassador of this practice.
This on the back of the fact that on regular days , Mr Gandhi doesn’t care about the plight of farmers considering he has nothing to say on large no. of farmer suicides in Congress governed states like Karnataka, has no words of sympathy for armed forces and the losses it suffers in combat and has till date never been able to articulate his solutions to multiple issues that ail the country.
So how this plays out inside Congress and what is the step by step process of the evolved art of Vulture tourism? Here is my take on how the ball is set in motion
Step 1: Reaffirm your faith in family
This is the 1st step and without which I am sure generally no action is taken in the party. One must loudly affirm that Gandhi family is the sole reason for existence of everyone in congress in particular. That there is one and only one truth and that being that Family needs to be preserved at any cost. That all efforts , initiative and work need to ensure the longevity of family interest superseding everything else. Hail family !
Step 2: Search for a BJP ruled state with a disgruntled voter group
Now in today’s context with 17 BJP ruled state its hardly an issue but extra care needs to be taken to identify who is not happy with BJP regime. Is it the Patidars of Gujarat or the Jatavs of UP ? Is it Jats of Rajasthan or Christians in Goa ? Which ever may be the case the primary need is that these groups should be resourceful, can be funded and is set to loose primacy in state issues owing to policies of BJP government.
Step 3: Manufacture or Instigate violence and death
This thing works like a fuel in fire. The attempt at this stage is to push administration to a point wherein they are forced to act . This can be achieved either through arson , rape , murder or vandalizing of public property. Desired output – some casualty or arrest.
Step 4: Get your crew to cover it
This must be the easiest part. Infact all these media channels which have been at Congress’s payrolls must be giving maximum ROI ( return on investments) during this phase. TV crews accompanied by celeb anchors reach at the site of conflict asap and should send back glaring footages of brutal police excesses against innocent protesters. Never mind the violence these protesters might be perpetrating but any counter action should be shown as “action without provocation”
Step 5: Light , Camera and Action
After all the above steps when the ground work is in place , the prince is informed that its time to take the tour. Some time is taken to carefully grow that salt and pepper stubble, white starched kurta payjamas are ordered , pet media is informed to remain at stand by, few Hindi lines are prepared with experts to be blurt out in front of cameras. Now the stage is set.
Mr Rahul Gandhi appears , confident gait , stern look suggesting deep understanding of issues in hand and pained by how things have turned out.
Its great if he can meet victims , even better if he can sit with and eat and best if he can spend a night around the vicinity. All the time cameras continues to roll , articles are dug out about how Rahul Gandhi is now emerging as serious politician and posing a challenge to Mr. Modi followed by prime time debates about how BJP is in deep trouble.
In case all the steps are taken and set objectives are met then Mission is a success ! Next day everything crawls back to normalcy, TV crews head back to cities , news channel move on to next big news and Mr. Rahul Gandhi takes a much needed break having milked the situation to its best.
If things do’nt go as per plan , congress strategists get a memo next day which states “Repeat Step No. 1″