LET’S WAIT FOR
RAHUL GANDHI TO GROW!
So, Rahul Gandhi has to wait, for he must grow, feels the Congress, as does the nation! While Congress leaders continue to pay lip-service to the icons of Nehru-Gandhi family, believing perhaps that it still holds some sway across the length and breadth of the country, a thinking is simultaneously gaining ground within the party that Rahul Gandhi as the family's icon has roundly failed to impress the countrymen.Trust deficit apparently is running so high that Congressmen, both veterans and the young ones, are gradually giving up hope of the party regaining electoral foothold anytime soon, especially under the stewardship of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul. Nothing explains this more explicitly than the CWC's decision to put off not only the long-expected elevation of young Gandhi to the top, but also the party's internal polls.
The party's highest policy-making body decided on Tuesday that Mrs Gandhi will remain Congress president for another year to allow Rahul more time to graduate as an astute politician. A CWC resolution extended Sonia's term, giving an ample indication that time was not ripe for Rahul to be in full command of the party to accept the formidable challenge of reviving it for it stood today miserably moiled after the 2014 general election, with its Lok Sabha strength reduced to a scanty 44 seats. The challenge becomes really tough against a burgeoning BJP and an extraordinarily mandated NDA govt that is headed by a tall saffron leader like Narendra Modi.
The Congress also has a bad patch in its popularity rating after it chose to disrupt, in coordination with other opposition parties, the entire Monsoon Session of Parliament to a whopping Rs 100-crore loss to the exchequer. The issue was the 'Lalitgate' in which, the party insisted, two BJP stalwarts had clear "conflict of interest." Even in public domain, the issue was not considered worth wasting a session. As a result, there is unease over the party coming across as irresponsible even if it claims to be chasing BJP's tactics when the latter was in opposition.
The party must be wondering why it lost municipal elections in Karnataka, a state where it presently rules, in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The veterans, therefore, strongly believe that there is something wrong with the direction the party has taken in recent times. Even though no one openly talks about it, yet senior insiders fume in privacy that the leadership itself has unwittingly bargained for this unhappy lot, apparently unduly mesmerized by the "young coterie" which the oldies find entirely ominous for the party. Murmurs are also heard: "Enough is enough, Congress now needs to move away from the dynasty's control."
After Rahul Gandhi returned from his sabbatical in his "new avatar" earlier this year and put up an aggressive front against his political opponents in and outside Parliament, a section of the party heaved a sigh of relief and felt he was emerging stronger. But the veterans saw in this "aggression" clearly a negative intrusion, enough to rob the party of its "traditional candor which the people of India ever liked and cherished." They saw Rahul losing control of himself and going unduly intemperate in public speeches. More often, he referred to PM Modi in terms of "suit-boot", "56-inch chest" and "lier" jibes. The senior leaders' argument was that hateful, retributive outbursts were not politically sound and invited only bitter public comments. They also recall how Mrs Gandhi's own "maut ka saudagar" coinage had terribly backfired in the next elections. A veteran, who worked very closely with Indira Gandhi, rued : " Shalinta kaha hai? (Where is amiability?)...Cool debates with logic, reasoning and substance were all that the people always liked...they hated show of aggression, muscle power, fistfights and abusive exchanges in Parliament and in the streets."
In the acrimonious debates on Land Acquisition and GST Bills, Rahul Gandhi showed his feigned temper, with the young MPs sitting close to him, fuelling his angry outbursts. Vehemence in his argument appeared lost when he displayed passionate displeasure, vociferously insisting on incorporating certain clauses in these Bills which the treasury benches were not ready to accept. Instead of cornering the govt, forcing it to carry out reasonable modifications in the Land Bill with compelling, farmer-friendly arguments, Rahul preferred to go to farmers, sowing discontent within the agrarian community. Little substance and incoherence also became visible in his speeches.
While CWC gave no timeframe for Rahul's elevation, the party leaders only said division of work between Sonia Gandhi and Rahul was an "ideal situation", insisting that the party was in a "very comfortable position with a youthful vice-president and a mature and experienced Sonia Gandhi as president." Senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad dismissed suggestions that such an arrangement would lead to "two power centres" in the organization. However, it is learned that Rahul is feeling immensely relieved now that he is spared the party's full organizational responsibility. This will substantially ease the burden on him of Congress's electoral performance as well. Mrs Gandhi has held the party's top post for 17 years, the longest tenure for a party chief so far, clearly demonstrating concentration of political power in the Nehru-Gandhi family. Her current term was to end in December next.
In her address to the CWC meeting, Mrs Gandhi rapped the Prime Minster, stating that most of his poll promises were all "hawabaazi" (empty talk) and that his regime had "failed abysmally" to match words with deeds. She said, “from mocking Dr Manmohan Singh and his functioning during the Lok Sabha poll campaign, Modi has been reduced to ‘unedifying flip-flops’, casting doubts on what he really stood for…Instead of having a coherent policy on Pakistan, this govt can't seem to make up its mind on what it should do... the economy is on a downward slide and prices continue to rise."
Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani promptly shot back: "By attacking Modi, she is hiding her own failures..It's Congress which did "hawabaazi' for 40 years on 'one rank one pension', while Modi fulfilled that promise in 18 months." She said the real 'hawabaazi' was Rahul declaring himself messiah of farmers...It's laughable that those who emptied the country's treasury are attacking someone who has brought development on the ground.” In the midst of such political acrobatics, the nation has to decide who of the two is talking sense. The coming electoral battle in Bihar will give them the reality check!