Will Rahul’s presence make as much news as his absence did?
Ashish Mehta | April 17, 2015 | New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi’s disappearance and reappearance have led to much discussion and debate. That is surprising, because he is a leader far outshined by his mother, in a party far outshined by Modi’s strident BJP. In other words, the leader No 2 of the party No 2 does not carry as much weight as it seems to a large section of Congress workers.
If his absence could have a serious national impact, the UPA 1 and 2 governments would have had a different destiny, the 2014 results would have been different. If Rahul could learn political lessons and rejuvenate the party – as many expect him to – the Delhi results, in the least, could have been a bit different.
READ: From Rahul Gandhi’s reflection to enlightenment of Congress
He seems to be in the wrong profession, going by his critics. His mysterious sabbatical (and more importantly, the lack of any explanation for it) is the final pointer to his lack of readiness to plunge full time into the hustle and bustle of politics. In that case, his reappearance should have as little impact on national life as the 56 days of his unexplained leave.
This critical appraisal, however, is superficial. The grand old party is the natural habitat for palace conspiracies. What rumours and whispers narrate is this: Rahul has charisma to lead, if not India yet, at least the demoralised Congress workers, and he has been waiting for a free hand to deliver. But Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party old guard are not yet ready to relinquish power to him, and he, in turn, is sulking, which also explains his leave of absence. Going by this theory, he would have fought national and state elections differently, but his role was limited to road shows.
READ: Rahul Gandhi back from sabbatical, trends on Twitter
It is difficult to figure out the potential of a man whose whereabouts for close to two months are a mystery – as much as his views on most matters of governance are. But this much can be safely said: he has the charisma and chutzpah to emerge as the challenger if and when Modi starts faltering.
Call them gimmicks, but his “discovery of India” trips with food-sharing and night-stays with the marginalised showed he was prepared to think beyond the politics-as-usual. Systematic clean-up of organisational elections was a rare and welcome move, even if its natural follow-up at the national level of his party will remain pending. Tearing up an ordinance of the government-led by his own party was, of course, a tad juvenile but his theatrics has takers. In short, he is what the US media once called Obama: a work in progress.
Can he realise all the potential he has as the leader No 2 of the party No 2? We will not have to wait long for the answer: on Sunday, he will lead his party’s protests against amendments in the land bill. This also happens to be an area where he has some track-record, with his Niyamgiri and Bhatta-Parsaul visits. This is also an issue on which the Modi government is on defensive, though the Congress and the allied opposition are yet to go on full offensive. The rally is only a start; Rahul will have to show his political acumen inside parliament, and in bringing the opposition together. If he can prove himself in this battle, then all the brouhaha over his absence will be worth it.
Fire on the Ganges: Life among the Dead in Banaras By Radhika Iyengar 4th Estate / HarperCollins, 348 pages, 599
Calling for reforms in the Engineering Department of BMC, Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a not-for-profit organisation has said that less than optimum performance of Engineering Function has added to the woes of citizens and deterioration in the quality of life in the metro. In its recently released r
Hailing the Maharashtra government for introducing a bill to amend the Insecticide Act, 1968, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India has called the amendments ‘very focussed’ and urged the state to expand their scope to address other challenges. The bill, introduced in the a
`Garba of Gujarat` has been inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity by UNESCO, under the provisions of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage during the 18th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of t
Since its inception, Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System has witnessed more than 12.77 lakh complaints registered (till November 15, 2023), and has saved more than Rs. 930 crore in more than 3.80 lakh complaints. This was stated by minister of state for home affair
Impacts and implications of Climate Change Vulnerability in the Himalayan Region and ways of creating ‘Climate Resilient Development in Indian Himalayan Region by making mountain communities green and resilient were discussed the side event hosted at the India pavilion at the UN Climate Conference CO