FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Rahul Gandhi: Can he deliver?
Updated:Oct 1, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Rashmi Saksena
 
After his September 11 address at Berkeley, USA, Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and Vice President of the Indian National Congress, is again being evaluated by political commentators.
 
Based on what he spoke, some see in him a candid, forthright person giving a straight from-the-heart critique on the Narendra Modi government and, more significantly, on his own party that was once led by his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, his grandmother Indira Gandhi, his father Rajiv Gandhi and now his mother Sonia Gandhi.
 
His detractors see him accepting his failure as a political leader. Both assessments are right in their own way. Let us remember that a political leader needs to be more than just a gentleman. As far as his party men go, Rahul is the heir in waiting. In fact they feel that the wait seems unending. This is why it is best that Rahul be evaluated as a political leader who is expected to lead the grand old national party.
 
Before doing so, it would help to note the profile that he has gained today. It is pertinent to point out that his main political opponent, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has very assiduously worked at creating the"Rahul Baba" (son of an anglicized, privileged family) image for him and calling his coterie ‘Baba Log’ (the spoilt ‘baba’ lot). At the same time they have projected him as ‘Pappu’, (the colloquial term for a simpleton with no intellectual prowess).
 
The BJP’s ‘Demolish Rahul’ project aimed at trivializing him has been a huge success. For the average person in India, Rahul is a reluctant politician, more interested in foreign jaunts and having fun than attending to the serious business of running the Congress. He is seen as immature, with no feel for the common man and incapable of leading the Congress.
 
Above all, this presents a stark contrast to the image of Modi, the strong and effective leader. To paint such a picture in contrast is what the BJP set out to do and has done well, with the help of a plethora of social media jokes and dismissive statements by its leaders. The goal was to build the perception that Rahul was not prime ministerial material.
 
What has Rahul done and not done to reinforce this image? For this, it is necessary to assess his performance when his party was in power as well as post the like-never-before drubbing it got at the hustings. When the Congress led the UPA government at the Centre with Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister, Rahul chose to distance himself from governance. Not only did he refuse a ministerial berth, he even tried to project himself as an aggressive critic of Singh’s policies. His tearing up an ordinance paper during a press briefing is the most glaring example. This strengthened the perception that he was scared of taking on responsibility and impetuous.
 
At the organizational level, Rahul failed to deliver. He had promised a revamp of the organization from the state level. His initiatives turned out to be non-starters. At the same time, he alienated local leaders. His move to marginalize the Congress’ old war horses in a bid to introduce a youthful face for the party had a similar result. Senior leaders started to withdraw in a bid to give him space, depriving him of the benefit of the voice of experience. He acquired a reputation of surrounding himself with computer savvy and foreign educated kids.
 
As the Congress lost state elections, people started to view him as a failure. The Congress expected far more from him once it lost power in 2014. Rahul was expected to galvanize the youth and rejuvenate the party and turn it into an efficient fighting machine that could take on Modi. Rahul has failed to do that. Not only has he shown that, he has little administrative and organizational skills and cannot execute his vision for the party. The most important point that emerges is that Rahul does not have his finger on the pulse of the people. He does not know what the people are searching for and this is why what he says does not resonate with them or fire their imagination. He has failed to come up with something like Indira Gandhi, who electrified the masses with one single slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao Desh bachao’ (abolish poverty, save the nation) which was the theme slogan of her 1971 election bid. Rahul’s challenge is to be able to connect with the masses. Instead of showing that he can, he put forward reasons at Berkeley for the Congress being down in the dumps. 
 
As the future hope for the party, should he stand back and distance himself from the failures of the Congress? In doing so he has not only failed his party but the people of the country who expect the Congress to present itself as a viable alternative and effective opposition to its political opponent the BJP. A large question mark looms on whether Rahul has the mettle to deliver - his party and India!
 
(The author is a veteran journalist. She can be contacted at rsaksena8@gmail.com )
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has confirmed his presence for the occasion. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India, Sidharto R.Suryodipuro, reminded Nilova Roy Chaudhury that the first Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations, in 1950, w
 
read-more
The words of Ho Chi Minh  “Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty” rang true for the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan when, with increasing brutality, the West Pakistani oppression spread across the land, writes Anwar A Khan from Dhaka
 
read-more
In a significant boost to New Delhi's Act East Policy, India and Japan set up the Act East Forum on Tuesday as agreed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India this year for the annual bilateral meeting that would help to focus and catalyse development in India's Northeast.
 
read-more
  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated on Friday Washington's warning that “all options are on the table” to meet North Korea's nuclear threat while offering to keep the lines of communication with Pyongyang open.
 
read-more
The 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China concluded in New Delhi on Monday with many nuanced takeaways embedded in the joint statement of 46 paragraphs. Reiterating that the forum “is not directed against any other country”, the statement underlined the importance of the establishment o
 
read-more
The first thing that one sees when a flight approaches New Delhi is thick smog that envelopes the city and its lack of greenery.  In almost all other major cities of India lack of greenery is the most obvious sight that one sees when approaching it by air.
 
read-more

Pakistan has agreed to allow the rupee to depreciate after holding talks with the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) on the country's economy.

 
read-more

Two major global changes in the past year; the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the advent of Donald Trump, writes Sandeep Kaur Bhatia

 
read-more

It is also imperative for India to explore other regions for markets. Its trade deficit with Latin America has been narrowing. Also, its trade with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala has increased, ...

 
read-more
Column-image

Over the last 25 years, India's explosive economic growth has vaulted it into the ranks of the world's emerging major powers. Long plagued by endemic poverty, until the 1990s the Indian economy was also hamstrung by a burdensome regulat...

 
Column-image

Title: A Ticket to Syria; Author: Shirish Thorat; Publisher: Bloomsbury India: Pages: 254; Price: Rs 399

 
Column-image

Gorichen, a majestic peak in the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 22,500 feet, is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. Beautiful to look at and providing a fantastic view from the top, it is extremely tough climb for mountaineers.

 
Column-image

It is often conjectured if the reason for long-standing conflicts and insurgencies, in the developing world, especially South Asia, is not only other powers fishing in troubled waters but also the keenness of arms industries, mostly Western, to...

 
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699