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The enigma of Rahul

The enigma of Rahul
Highlights

So much has been said and written against Rahul Gandhi of late that it is difficult to perceive what the real Rahul is. His sudden going on a sabbatical has been scorned at in the most vicious terms.

So much has been said and written against Rahul Gandhi of late that it is difficult to perceive what the real Rahul is. His sudden going on a sabbatical has been scorned at in the most vicious terms. He has been gamely asked to ‘extend’ his leave of absence – a thinly veiled command, “don’t return.”

His whereabouts have been kept secret, ostensibly to keep him away from media glare. This has fuelled speculation. The chatterati have scoffed at his ‘disappearance’. Indications that he would return have only added to the scorn.

So ‘confirmed’ is Rahul’s negative image after the party he leads received its worst electoral defeat last year, for which he is held responsible, that it is difficult to express a different view without being accused of sycophancy. No marks, of course, for objectivity.

Yet, it is difficult to discard someone who has been in public life for a decade-plus. He is young. One need not mention his looks since they don’t matter much in public life. But one will have to mention his pedigree, since Nehru-Gandhis have ruled the country for long. Rahul does belong to the ‘dynasty’. Notably, like his, those of most others, too, haven’t been doing well. This can be attributed to the rising young voter, demanding and full of aspirations. Rahul is partly a ‘victim’ of this welcome trend. For the rest, he has assigned himself an impossible task of building the Congress democratically. But he has inherited a decadent party of professional politicos who understand politics only as power and pelf. This process has got ingrained as part of the culture. That other parties are also infected with it is hardly consoling.

But in seeking internal democracy, he must face a contradiction. How can someone pitch-forked to the top because of his family ties work for internal democracy in lower rungs of the organisation? There is talk, but no hard evidence, of Rahul being caught in intrigue involving family members and their aides working at cross-purpose. Money, power and business interests are supposed to be the cause. This paints Rahul as a victim.

Reports of his ‘displeasure’ at mother and party chief Sonia blocking his appointments and his organisational plans have come from senior Congressmen, not opposition detractors. We are told that he wanted to take up the agenda and campaign style of Arvind Kejriwal, but was prevented. Who prevented him and why?

Is the Hamlet-ian dilemma of Rahul the individual, the family person or the party leader? He remains an enigma that cannot be easily unravelled.

Can the party afford to be without Rahul? Its leaders cannot do without the family. Nor can it grow with them at the helm. It is an existential crisis. No alternative is in sight. Yet, one must be devised if only to impart meaning to India’s democracy. It yearns for a strong political opposition.

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