Thursday, 20 January, 2022
HomeOpinionRahul Gandhi’s dream team is made of old people

Rahul Gandhi’s dream team is made of old people

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The young leaders in the Congress who have delivered or shown the potential are falling by the wayside.

Thirty-three years back, in June 1985, then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had got the entire nation cheering for him as he spoke at the US Congress 7,000 miles away: “India is an old country but a young nation; and like the young everywhere we are impatient. I am impatient and I too have a dream”.

Cut to December 2018. His son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi is now speaking of the young nation’s dream again. But he has a different message for the young colleagues in his old party: “The two powerful warriors are patience and time.”

So as Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot take oath as chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, among the spectators will be Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot—the two young leaders who, too, had a dream. Scindia had declined Gandhi’s offer to become Nath’s deputy while Pilot accepted it grudgingly after much persuasion.

Also read: 5 reasons why Rahul Gandhi picked Ashok Gehlot over Sachin Pilot

Many explanations have been proffered by the party’s spin doctors for the denial of the coveted jobs to the young leaders. But they don’t cut much ice. For instance, to argue that Gehlot is needed in Rajasthan ahead of the Lok Sabha elections because he is an organisational man is far from the truth. During his two previous terms as the chief minister, he had rendered the organisation virtually defunct.

What is getting more traction in the opposition party is a conspiracy theory that the claims by Nath and Gehlot just provided a convenient excuse to the high command. Rahul Gandhi couldn’t have promoted his contemporaries as chief ministers when his political adversaries are questioning his own inexperience in matters of governance.

Be that as it may, the latest instances may come as a blow to Gandhi’s plans to revive the organisation at the grassroots level. That’s because those who have delivered or shown the potential are falling by the wayside. Come to think of it, Pilot spent five years rebuilding the party in Rajasthan while Gehlot was cooling his heels and doing backroom politics.

Scindia had been appointed campaign committee chief barely a few weeks ahead of the elections in 2013. He couldn’t have done magic in such a short time. However, he continued to travel through the state and kept the heat on Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. He was made campaign committee chairman in 2018, again. Scindia has been left high and dry again.

Also read: Restless, young India has no connection to IITs & IIMs, but Rahul Gandhi can’t see it

Rahul Gandhi appointed former Youth Congress chief Ashok Tanwar as Haryana Congress president nearly five years ago. The state party organisation has remained dormant under him. It’s rather former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender who have kept the party flag flying with a series of agitation programmes and farmers’ rallies in the state for the past four years. Gandhi hasn’t noticed them so far. Deepender, a three-term MP from Rohtak, must be a confused leader today. The more his stature grows as a young, popular leader in Haryana, the more irrelevant he is becoming in Gandhi’s scheme of thing.

Ex-MP Sandeep Dikshit, another ex-chief minister’s son, must be equally confused. He was working closely with Gandhi when his mother, Sheila Dikshit, was at the helm in the national capital. Without a role in the party for long, Sandeep has shifted his base to Madhya Pradesh to do social work even as Ajay Maken, his mother’s old detractor, calls the shots in Delhi, with Gandhi backing him to the hilt.

In Uttar Pradesh, Raj Babbar has been a disaster as the state unit chief but Gandhi likes him and so he survives. Meanwhile, young leaders such as former Union minister Jitin Prasada, son of late Congress stalwart Jitendra Prasada from UP, must be wondering about their place in Gandhi’s new scheme of things.

Is it that Rahul Gandhi is suddenly indifferent to young leaders with political legacies or other privileges? One could understand it in the context of the ruling BJP that is presently led by self-proclaimed “kaamdaars” such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. They are known to have a strong dislike for dynasts. Therefore, a young and outspoken parliamentarian such as Anurag Thakur, a three-term MP from Himachal Pradesh, finds himself on the sidelines.

In 2011, as then-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Thakur seemed to have arrived as a leader after he made national headlines for weeks due to his controversial march to hoist Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Many expected him to become the darling of the RSS and the Modi-Shah duo. It didn’t happen though. And it’s not because of the mess in the BCCI and his removal from the BCCI president’s post by the Supreme Court early last year.

Also read: Dear troubled liberal, don’t fear the Congress party

Poonam Mahajan, MP and daughter of late Pramod Mahajan, had replaced him as BJYM chief weeks before the Supreme Court order. Thakur happens to be the son of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, who does not enjoy a great rapport with the current dispensation in Delhi.

Another three-term BJP MP Dushyant Singh has been waiting in the wings for long because he happens to be the son of former chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje. Similarly, union minister Maneka Gandhi’s son Varun Gandhi, once the general secretary of the BJP, is completely out of favour in the party today.

Coming back to the original question, why do dynasts such as Scindia and Pilot find the going tough in today’s Congress? Or, for that matter, Hoodas, Dikshits and Prasadas? You will get the answers depending on how you look at Rahul Gandhi. Do you see him as a reluctant and unfortunately fortunate politician who has sacrificed his private life for the greater good of the country? Or do you view him as a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family that is known to believe that popularity of a leader starts and ends at its doorstep?

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  1. why OBC, OBC, OBC chant is not divisive politics but “Hindu Hindu Hindu” chant is ? It’s a shame same media which denounces BJP’s open support of Hindutva as divisive politics, but discusses caste based politics as strategy. We have not gotten ridden of the self loathing mentality the British has imbibed in us.

  2. I have read your stories Mr.Subramanyam Swamy.we know who you not worry about Congress. Continue your work for corporate government.your boss don’t select experienced men,no real educated youngsters,no man with minimum ecnomic knowledge .he preferred a sanyasi with no knowledge about economy or administration. Why you are still in his lap for single biscuit.we know you are playing a dangerous game.continue it for five months.

  3. If people of talent and calibre are kept away, performance will suffer, first politically and electorally in the party, then in terms of performance in government. The fact that Sachin is the son of another dynamic political leader, Rajesh Pilot, should not be held against him. That may have got him his break, like a film star’s son does, but he has done sterling work in Rajasthan over the last five years. The Congress needs a lot of rebuilding in states where it was relevant. That requires good people, not fawning courtiers.

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