Last one month or so has marred much of the glamour that the world used to find in India-US ties. The two strategic partners turned into warring factions over Devyani Khobragade’s alleged visa fraud case. It is now understood that both the Indian and US officials had come to some sort of a political deal, which resulted in the latter granting Devyani full diplomatic immunity and facilitating her return to her homeland.
The issue was turning rancid and that was perhaps the best that the two parties could do prevent things from getting worse. The episode reached its catharsis with the arrival of Devyani in India.
It is exactly at this juncture that a new chapter now opens.
What is the road ahead for the Indian diplomat? Will she be delegated a different mission or she would embrace a career in politics? Both are equally strong propositions.
The unofficial communications from the Indian foreign ministry claim that she will be given a new assignment in New Delhi. However, one of the Maharashtra-based political parties has expressed interest in roping her for the upcoming general elections. The party spokesperson was of the opinion that she is an inspiration for the country and having her in the party will naturally brighten the prospects of garnering support.
This one reminded me of a similar appeal that was made a month back by the Samajwadi Party. It is one of the most important regional parties of contemporary times, and one of its blue-eyed members – Azam Khan had publicly offered her a seat from Uttar Pradesh. Khan, who is also the state’s urban development minister, made a strong political statement by making it evident that the party can take a detour to give an election ticket to someone who doesn’t hail from Uttar Pradesh.
It is not just the poll tickets. The 39-year old diplomat is also drawing sympathies and eulogies from the political parties. While leaders like Azam Khan was among the first to condemn the ill-treatment meted out to her, some parties have already started projecting her as a hero for ‘standing up to the US.’ Trust me I am not going overboard when I say that Devyani’s episode has managed to stir up nationalist feelings among them.
Coming back to the ground zero, Devyani hasn’t made any statement or no official decision pertaining to her future course is conveyed yet. Some of the government officials interviewed by the media have opined that it was little too early to determine the nature of her new assignment as the government will take some time to think about further action. It would be the end of a blotchy incident if she is deployed in a manner that would be appropriate with her experience, but what if she makes up her mind to try her hands at politics?
What would Devyani lose if she gives up her diplomatic service to choose a political career? Surely, this is one question that she would be contemplating on. Even if she steps into the political arena, it won’t be a first in the history. In the past, government officials did make a debut in politics, but only after retiring from the service.
Devyani, who had the experience of being on difficult diplomatic missions, might find it a tad more difficult to fit into the role of a political leader. The reason, I conjecture, could be the lack of understanding of people at the ground level. Her elite diplomatic discourse may not create a crowd-pulling sensation as the day-to-day rhetoric in regional vernacular would do. Also, Devyani is yet to get a lesson in regional vote-bank calculations and on-stage diplomacy (literally).