Before you retire Sonia, please teach Rahul some manners

If Sonia Gandhi is really going to retire, and Manmohan Singh too plans to work under Rahul only, they need to inculcate right manners and better political thinking in him. After all, they are his political guru.

When journalist-writer Rasheed Kidwai’s updated version of“24 Akbar Road” hit the book shelf, the piece which attracted maximum attention was the revelation that Congress president Sonia Gandhi wants to retire when she turns 70 in 2016. Not only this, the book further says that the decision rattled the party and this is what has prompted the party to give a ‘bigger role’ to her son Rahul Gandhi.

According to Kidwai, the Congress president shared her mind with senior party colleagues Dec 9, 2012 — her last birthday. “Stunned by the announcement — after all, hardly any Indian politician ever retires — nervous party leaders requested her to let Rahul ‘take charge’,” the book says.

The book further reveals that “efforts to persuade the 42-year-old Rahul began but the (the) then (Congress) general secretary dithered. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once again pointed at his repeated offers to Rahul to join the cabinet.”

“The prime minister conveyed to Rahul that his reluctance to be an effective power centre was hurting both the party and government. Rahul then agreed to opt for organizational work.” It was then that Rahul Gandhi was made the Congress vice president at the Jaipur ‘Chintan Shivir’ Jan 19 this year.

Kidwai says that despite Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the post of vice president, Sonia Gandhi’s retirement deadline continues to rattle Congress leaders.

“Amid the jubilation at Rahul’s anointment as the vice president at the Jaipur session, many in the Congress are still nervous. The anxiety stems from their experience of major changes each time a transition in the leadership takes place.”

It seems Rahul is now coming out of his shell gradually. Looking at the number of rallies that he has addressed this year and the gradual progress from “Manmohan Singh is a great prime minister” to “I want to serve you” and “Next government will be of youth”, it seems that Rahul is now ready to take charge.

Interestingly enough, Rahul Gandhi had always been reluctant in assuming any big positions. The Congress too had been careful not to turn the 2014 election campaign into a Rahul vs Modi battle.

Congress has all the while maintained that it is not the party practice to announce a PM candidate, but ranging from high party cadre to low member, everybody has resonated the same wish – they want to serve under Rahul Gandhi.

“We all expect that Rahul Gandhi will take up leadership of the party and the country,” party spokesman PC Chacko told HT on Thursday.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who is also Leader of the Lok Sabha, on Thursday expressed the desire to see 43-year-old Rahul as the next Prime Minister of the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already declared Gandhi as the ideal choice for PM. “I have always maintained that Rahul Gandhi would be an ideal choice for the PM post after 2014 elections. I will be very happy to work under him,” he said last month.

Even finance minister P Chidambaram said in a recent interview: “The time has come for the torch to be passed on to a new and younger generation.”

Unamed senior Congress leaders are quoted in the book as saying that the real impact of Rahul Gandhi’s elevation would be felt through his policies, planning and style of functioning.

“Sonia Gandhi is seen as too tolerant a person who avoids enforcing discipline but has a knack for winning over adversaries and reaching out to alliance leaders,” the book says.

“She also leans left-of-centre on most policy matters. In contrast, Rahul is seen among the ranks as a leader in the Rajiv-Sanjay mould – frank and decisive. His thrust on reforms, urban voters, technology, the youth and gender sensitivity may force many party leaders and regional satraps to shape up or ship out.”

Rahul’s famous outburst on the ordinance was an ample proof of his style. But such kind of impulsive action has costed Congress dearly in the past. Whether it be with Sanjay Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi, Congress had to rely on sympathy votes to come back in power due to their disastrous actions.

Meanwhile, accusing the Congress of nepotism, the Opposition has relentlessly been taking potshots at Rahul. BJP general secretary Amit Shah recently said: “Congress thinks the PM’s chair is Pappu’s (a reference to Rahul) birthright. But this is a democracy, you need people’s blessings, and people’s blessings are with Narendra Modi.”

If Sonia Gandhi is really going to retire, and Manmohan Singh too plans to work under Rahul only, they need to inculcate right manners and better political thinking in him. After all, they are his political guru.

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