Thursday, December 8, 2022
HomeOpinionRahul Gandhi needs to leave mass politics, not party presidentship

Rahul Gandhi needs to leave mass politics, not party presidentship

Problem with Rahul Gandhi is that people don’t see a leader in him. Even after leaving party presidentship, he will likely remain Congress’ public face.

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Forty-two days after the Lok Sabha election results, Rahul Gandhi Wednesday made his first public statement, saying he had resigned from the post of the party president.

The note made it clear that he was going to remain active in politics. “I will, of course, continue to fight for the ideals of the Congress party with all my strength… I am available to the party whenever they require my services, input or advice.”

Rahul Gandhi broadly performed three functions. First, he ran the party organisation. Second, he was ultimately responsible for the party’s strategies for state and Lok Sabha elections. He performed these two functions with some degree of autonomy only since December 2017, when he became the party president.

The third function Rahul Gandhi has performed is that of being the public face of the party. He has done this ever since he joined politics in 2004. By virtue of being the son of Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, he needs no post to be the Congress party’s public face.

Also read: Zee News & India Today could barely contain their glee at Rahul Gandhi’s resignation

It is in this role that he has been the greatest failure. As party president for 18 months or so, he can justly claim to have led the party to victory in two BJP stronghold states, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and kept the BJP out of power in Karnataka. Even in the Gujarat assembly elections in December 2018, local Congress workers told me the election was better fought with direct oversight from Rahul Gandhi’s office. There was less factionalism, fewer cases than usual of the undeserving getting tickets, and so on.

Prince forever in waiting

It is Rahul Gandhi as the public face of the Congress, which has not taken off in the 15 years since he has been in politics. It is no doubt an act of humility to step down as the Congress president, but it changes nothing because a new president will anyway be seen as a puppet of The Family. Whether it is Mallikarjun Kharge or Sushil Kumar Shinde or Ashok Gehlot or Sonia Gandhi herself who becomes the new president, Rahul Gandhi will continue to be seen as the prince-in-waiting.

What the Congress party needs is a charismatic national face who could capture the mass imagination. Right now, it has nobody to fill that role, not even the alleged Brahmastra of the Congress party, Priyanka Gandhi.

As former party president, Rahul Gandhi will likely remain the party’s star campaigner in elections. His words will continue to set the tone and agenda of the Congress party. He might do a press conference one day and tear apart a party document, like he once did to an ordinance cleared by his own government. He might say things that make little sense, leading to the BJP’s troll armies turning them into funny videos and circulating them to millions of voters through their infinite WhatsApp reach.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi made 3 big mistakes in politics and didn’t learn much from them

A party without PM candidates

Journalist Saeed Naqvi gave American diplomats his assessment of Rahul Gandhi’s leadership in 2005, which came out in WikiLeaks in 2011. In this conversation, he presciently said Rahul Gandhi “made no impression on the people of the state” of Uttar Pradesh that his party hoped he would revive for the Congress. Naqvi also said that “Gandhi dynastic politics had no future, as the family has run out of prime ministerial candidates with appropriate charisma”.

It might help if Rahul Gandhi announced he was never going to be his party’s prime ministerial candidate. But even then, the challenge of creating a pan-India mass leader will remain. The Congress needs its own Narendra Modi and if you don’t like the analogy, a new Indira Gandhi.

Making it worse

A puppet Congress president will only deepen the crisis in the party, especially because it is not clear who the real puppet-master is. As this crisis has shown, The Family doesn’t always have the same view on everything. Sonia and Priyanka, many have reported citing sources, didn’t want Rahul Gandhi to step down. Will the new puppet president report to Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Working Committee, or all of these?

Rahul Gandhi’s stepping down seems to be less an act of taking responsibility and more of blaming his party colleagues. ‘You didn’t make enough noise about Rafale? Now go handle it yourselves,’ he seems to be saying. ‘You didn’t listen to me? Now let’s see what you can do’. One can visualise him winking.

Also read: It’s my fault: Read full text of Rahul Gandhi’s letter after resignation

Rahul Gandhi will use this time and opportunity to again reinvent himself. Once again, he will fail at it. The Congress party will continue to spend its energy trying to build the image of its anointed leader, to little avail. Nothing is going to change.

Views are personal.

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  1. I won’t comment much on Rahul Gandhi, the politician or Rahul Gandhi, ‘the scion’, but I will write about what I think of him as a person. To me, he comes across an honest and decent man. He has never used abusive language nor has he behaved in an aggressive manner with anyone. He is not a genius but he is a hardworking gentleman. I think he should have stayed abroad with his girlfriend because we as Indians do not deserve a decent person like him as our leader. His mission of saving the country from BJP is futile as Mother India has already been raped and murdered by RSS-BJP. He should abandon ship and get out while he can!

    • Dear Mr Nath,
      While you have every right to adore & admire Rahul, your comment”mother India has already been raped by BJP & RSS is in very bad taste.

  2. Rahul Gandhi’s resignation letter is an interesting document. To summarise, it has following points: (1) He is resigning as he considers himself responsible for the loss in 2019 elections. However, he also states that numerous other people in the party should be made accountable for failure of 2019 and hard decisions are required to be taken. (Blame for the loss is passed on to others).(2) Congress vs RSS is a conflict is a battle of ideologies that is waged on our soil for thousands of years. Rahul is the Saint and RSS the villain.(A victim card. The thousand years reference is amusing. Is he aspiring for sainthood?) (3) He will continue to protect India from the poisonous RSS till his last breath.(He is not retiring. Resignation is just temporary strategy)(4) During the electoral battle, at times, he stood completely alone. He lost because he entire machinery of the Indian state was backing BJP. It was an unfair battle. ( Offering lame excuses for failure. No attempt to introspect) (5) Though Modi has won the electoral battle, Rahul still considers Modi to be corrupt. ( The slogan- Chowkidar Chor Hai remains). (6) He shall continue to fight. ( Means that he is not quitting active politics). To sum up, Rahul Gandhi has a puerile mindset and yet the mindset contains a hidden superiority complex. He will not accept his own mistakes and pass on the blame to others and to the uneven circumstances. Does such person deserve another chance?

  3. Is perception better than truth , or can a strongly held perception turn in to truth , either way the ‘parivar’ is on it ‘s way (out). ‘babu’ it is perceived is refusing to grow up , petulantly wants to’sacrifice’ what he never earned .
    What about ‘babu’s ‘ caretakers , all those pushing the stroller and amusing him with the rattlers , look closely nappy changers , is it an adult diaper you are holding?

  4. If all the discussion revolves around Rahul, nothing is going to happen ….. he lacks everything to become a leader. Let’s realise that with Modi II rise, the parties with dynasts will crumble, if they refuse to give way.
    Modi ji is not a God and he has not just emerged from nowhere. Vajpayees and Modis are made in years, with lot and lot of courage and conviction and years of labour put into. Years of being and remaining with masses.
    And there must be many of the leaders in all the parties, if really the parties give them the way to come up. In one stroke BJP did away with everyone above 75. Many of them, as we all know, had been stalwarts. And a whole lot of Gen Next has come up in the party. The same may happen in all parties if the parties do practice some democracy for their rank and file. After all, is there any difference among Rahul, Akhilesh, Tejashwi or so many other sons of the Great leaders. How come one may capture the top position of the party or govt just being the sons/daughters of the top leaders! And how come there are no prominent leaders in BJP who are the sons of the first benchers, who occupancy the positions by virtue of only their inheritance? And with what morale will they face the BJP and Modi II. The days of puppet show should also go now and India should outrightly reject all these Rajkumars.
    An entire new generation has taken over in India everywhere in the society. And in politics too a fair game must start.
    Not that the sons should be debarred to come and join politics, but they must not join the top job before they come up from beginning. Even the Rajkumars used to learn everything – from academics to practices before they were crowned!
    There are lots of youngsters in Congress too and there are capable seniors too. But when it comes to maning the top job/s, only the names of family loyals are discussed ….this has of late become the Congress culture. And even media has become part of this design.
    Jagjivan Ram was all along in all the cabinets right from 1947. Never he was even considered for the top job, not even during interim arrangements. How then leadership would emerge in Congress?
    The party needs a brain storming session …. and think everything beyond and above Rahul. Let the Working Committee really work and find out a real capable person to head the party and let Rahul be sidelined!

  5. I always believed he should have been in the cabinet in UPA2. Sitting out two full governments and not getting experience about how things really work cost him a lot I feel.

  6. Shri Vijji, Brilliant Article. Difficult to write when your subject is a dim halfwit who only got the job because his mummyji wanted him to do so. Rahul Gandhi has no substance, and if the congress wants to take on Modi, They really need to reinvent themselves and Rahul and his gang do not have the substance and the vision to do so

  7. It is increasingly looking like an internal fight for family silver between ghandis and vadras. Rahul by resignation wants to preempt transfer of family silver to vadras and ensure that ghandy retainer becomes president till such time ghandis are ready to make a come back. Their only assumption is that the people over some period of time will get over their Modi obsession and come back to ghandis!! Will it work? Wait for it.

  8. The article started off with a decent analysis but ended with such a bad, illogical personal note derived from baseless assumptions – if views are indeed personal then blog on your own social media rather than making it available in the Print for readers who are genuinely interested in the poltical progression of the country. Rahul Gandhi has stepped down – this is a fact. He has given his reasons in the resignation letter while simultaneously expressing his party’s views on the current government. That is it. The article could have focused on this rather than deriving stupid conclusions without any merit. Dear Print, is responsible journalism meaningless to you now? I used to really follow you for your articles but this just seems to be pure trash.

  9. He has said today that he will come back ten times stronger. He had also said immediately after the results that 53 MPs are enough to take on 303 BJP MPs and the NDA government in the Lok Sabha. All this only shows that he will continue to utter the same abuse, and ridicule Modi, while trying to demean Modi in the public perception. He failed miserably in denting Modi’s image even slightly after seven months of bitter campaign soaked in his hatred for Modi.. It also lays the foundation for regular disruptions of the Lok Sabha by Congress members and irresponsible statements by him outside, without even the burden of the post of the party President on him. He seems to be completely shattered by the humiliation of the humongous defeat.

  10. No one could have forced Shri Rahul Gandhi to step down. Recall the absence of any accountability for 2014. Even today, Congress CMs are pleading that he should stay on. Ms Priyanka Gandhi could claim the President’s post for the asking. In victory and defeat, that has been the culture Mrs Indira Gandhi created. So RG deserves credit for doing the right thing. 2. Who will emerge and how effective he will be is difficult to predict. We are comparing Congress and regional leaders with a charismatic Prime Minister at the peak of his powers and popularity. That may be an unfair comparison. For that matter, there is no BJP leader either who is in the same league. The opposition should keep its nerve, stay united, wait for the seasons to change, as they do in nature.

  11. “Views are personal”. When it comes to this opnion writer, his views are best left there.

  12. Some paid journalists think because they attacked MODIJI and MODIJI still won. USING THE SAME LOGIC THEY ARE ATTACKING THEIR PATRON HOPING THAT ATLEAST THEIR CRITISICM WILL HELP HIM. Sorry hard luck

  13. The time is such that persons who effectively cheat and make dramas with public are able to survive in India. The day is not far off when our country men identify who is 420 and who is really concerned about the country

    • Unfortunately, even after 70 years, if the country did not identify who is the real 420 means, we wish to remain to be slaves of foreigners.

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