Is the AICC meet the PM-in-waiting’s idea of democracy?
Ajay Singh | November 8, 2010
At times a one-line candid remark exposes political hypocrisy more than several reams of written words. This happened when Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar gave a simple “piece of advice” to aspiring Prime Minister Rahul Gandhi to learn a lesson or two in governance by becoming a chief minister first before giving lectures about development in Bihar. That the message went home was evident by near-hysterical reactions of the Congress party spokespersons.
In fact, Nitish Kumar’s candour was calculated to hit the Congress at its weakest spot. It exposed the double standards of the self-designated first political family of India. Rahul Gandhi is the uncrowned king in the country’s oldest political party. Notwithstanding his protestations about privileged positions on account of dynasty, Rahul Gandhi seems to be enjoying every bit of his political inheritance due to lineage.
His brief disappearance from the scene when his mother Sonia Gandhi was nominated as the party chief by delegates on Tuesday was nothing more than a proverbial fig-leaf to cover the stark political realities. He did not want to be seen among those who nominated the AICC president with a voice vote. The obvious reason for this political conduct is that Gandhi has been articulating his position that office-bearers be elected and not nominated. But Sonia Gandhi’s nomination militates against this proposition. Hence Rahul Gandhi disappeared till the AICC president got elected.
Can we expect that the young scion of the Nehru-gandhi family to bring about a qualitative change in Indian politics? Given the coterie that surrounds the family and inundates the mother-son duo with unabashed flattery, there is a considerable stake in maintaining the status-quo. The prognosis that the Congress is essentially is a status quoist party has been justifiably made by a veteran journalist who is now serving as information adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was subsequently forced to clarify his statement by showering encomiums on the party.
In fact, the AICC meet was a reflection of what the party really stands for. Corruption is a non-issue in so far as the party’s broader strategy is concerned. There is intriguing silence on various corruption issues ranging from the 2G scam to Commonwealth Games and Adarsh society scandal. Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and Commonwealth Games scam kingpin Suresh Kalmadi were honoured guests at the convention presided over by Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The party’s cry for secular polity did not go beyond flogging the dead horse that is RSS. Perhaps this was more aimed at resuscitating the RSS to play upon the Muslims’ fear. What surpassed the limits of flattery was the description of Sonia Gandhi as “pride of the world” by an important delegate which is akin to Dev Kant Baruah’s famous slogan, “India is Indira, Indira is India”, during the dark days of the emergency.
By all indications there is little to suggest a possibility of change in the political culture of the Congress. What is more distressing is that Rahul Gandhi who wields enormous clout within the party has also chosen to ignore, thereby encourage, the trend which is deleterious for politics in long-term. In his public interactions, particularly with students, he is displaying aversion to the prevalence of “chamcha political culture”. But his conduct at the AICC session contradicts his public positioning.
Perhaps Rahul Gandhi’s father Rajiv Gandhi was more candid when he hit out at sycophants of his mother Indira Gandhi and described them as “limpets” in his capacity as party’s general secretary. At that time he was much younger than Rahul Gandhi is today. Obviously Rajiv Gandhi’s political mentors were still stalwarts of Nehru’s time. Rahul Gandhi does not get the same benefit. In this context, he should seriously ponder over Nitish Kumar’s unsolicited piece of advice in order to graduate in the country’s politics.
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