A blunt assessment of Rahul Gandhi’s work tells us: He doesn’t get politics, period.
There was rumor in the political corridors of the country just a month ago that Congress President Sonia Gandhi was to retire from politics in 2016 due to her health issues. The news looked ridiculous for three reasons: One, nobody retires from politics; two nobody retires from politics this early; and three, nobody retires from politics till one is alive.
Well it is another matter altogether that setting a time-frame of 2016, which would be just two years after 2014 general elections, was not only confusing, it also shove us into cluelessness as her health-issues have always. And it is also understandable if she is getting frustrated by handling a puppet as a prime minister and drafting, practically, all the major policies and schemes for the government sitting in the NAC.
But shouldn’t the power vested in you be more important than the dummy position? At least the Indian executive sets the best example for that.
Anyway, at least she had the power (and money). But Mrs Gandhi’s son has been a complete failure from the start.
Her son, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, was given the reigns of Congress in 2004 when he finally decided to take some responsibility of his own. He stuttered while addressing rallies in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar but it was ignored because of his lack of experience. But what was truly non-acceptable was his arrogant approach.
Rather than speaking to the people about their basic problems and needs, he went on indulging them in big dreams. He never actually tried to understand his constituents and also never delivered any benefit from his modern approach towards politics.
Once a magazine reported a Congress party worker from Amethi saying that “it would have been better if he had thought about our basic needs like timely availability of fertilizer and seeds,” when Rahul dropped IIITs and IIMs as perk on the poeple. “We get less than seven hours of electricity and most of the handpumps are dry this summer. There is no means for the poor people to reach hospitals when they are ill. And there is no provision of free treatment,” he had further added.
This ‘not delivering’ business is what cost Congress UP and Bihar later on.
Rahul lacks charisma of a leader. He may make girls swoon for his good looks, he may get praised by his fellow party workers who are to a level of fanaticism attached to Congress, but he cannot woo voters. Not even when he invokes sympathy or specially devised for poll purpose policies of his government. Something stands amiss and that is experience.
An India Today profile of Rahul included a lunch thrown by Sonia Gandhi to thank UPA allies for supporting Pranab Mukherjee’s nomination for President: “Rahul was seated on a table with Mulayam Singh Yadav, Praful Patel, and Farooq Abdullah. Instead of reaching out to the influential Yadav, he spent the entire meal discussing workouts and golf with Omar Abdullah and Patel.”
Now, no modern school politician discards even an old school bafoon for the sheer presence of experience. But he chooses to side with younger clout and take corporate lunches with them rather than understanding old allies and rivals. Even Omar does not do that! No doubt he is running a state and Rahul is only removing Congress from power from everywhere.
Rahul resorted to some ‘high’ thinking when he should be speaking people’s language. His famous quotes on economy, condition of Dalits in the country, social fabric and poverty pretty much showed his ‘state of mind’. But he went on uninterrupted changing the ways of old Congress.
Knowing a constituency got limited to a five page application paper specially devised by him.
He tried playing clean politics, and we do not blame him for that, but the arrogance that dripped and continuous misjudging of the situation that happened from his side, left less for us to think about him.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had said in November this year, “Narendra Modi’s story over if he fails in 2014 polls, but Rahul Gandhi will be around.” Well the case seems highly unlikely in the current circumstances. The paper tearing attitude that he showed twice and his sheer misunderstanding of his opponent Narendra Modi, who is blasting the charts of popularity and has much more experience and oratory skill than him, is going to prove fatal.
Lakshmi Choudhry once wrote in an article: Rahul’s disdain for caste lobbies is indeed a virtue — and not unlikely for someone with his cosmopolitan background. But this lofty contempt for base political calculation can often border foolishness, as this Sahgal example illustrates: “While he interviewed aspirants for [party tickets in] the Assembly elections, candidates were surprised that Rahul didn’t ask them the usual caste-based questions. Instead a ticket aspirant from Nawabganj was asked if he knew the number of mobile users in his constituency.”
It sounds oh-so-modern and technocratic — except esoteric knowledge of mobile usage has zero relationship to a person’s ability to secure votes, and in Nawabganj, no less. It’s all very well to favour merit over identity or connections, but in politics, electoral victory is ultimate measure of talent. As DNA noted of Rahul’s corporate wonk style, “Politics is unlike business; data alone cannot solve the complex equation of a variety of disparate elements, including personal charisma, building relationships, finding compromises, and disbursing patronage. Businesses don’t contest elections; that too in India, the most diverse of nations.”
The recent string of rallies showed Rahul Gandhi’s low political acumen for he was simply not able to speak on any on the major issues which the public would have loved to hear from him. Also, the crowd started shortening soon after it realized that the Congress scion had nothing new to offer to them. Same old lines and same old crocodile tears over his family led to a massive disenchantment of public from his rallies. At least he should have used different tactics in different states.
This was manifested in the results which came out in the form of black Sunday for the party.
The problem was not only Rahul Gandhi, and it had a lot to do with the bad governance that the UPA is providing us from last ten years in the government. But Rahul Gandhi was a major part of the campaigning.
Once Aarthi Ramachandran, author of Decoding Rahul, had told New York times, “As far as politicians go, he doesn’t seem to get the pulse of politics.” But given his paper-tearing, brain farting attitude, we are forced toward a more blunt assessment: Rahul doesn’t get politics, period.
And writer Aatish Taseer’s words, “The prince was decent; he was hardworking; he was sincere. But he was, as far as the ballot box went, an unmitigated and un-photo-shoppable disaster,” hold true cent per cent.
Accepting the defeat, a “very very disappointed” Mrs Gandhi had told media that “obviously” people were unhappy. We need to tell her that Madam, it is time your son retires.