Wednesday, 18 May, 2022
HomePoliticsObama's description of Rahul Gandhi 'apt', many Congress leaders say in private

Obama’s description of Rahul Gandhi ‘apt’, many Congress leaders say in private

Former US president Barack Obama, in his upcoming book ‘A Promised Land’, describes Rahul Gandhi as lacking ‘either aptitude or passion to master the subject’.

Text Size:

New Delhi: The Congress’ official line may be to not comment on former US president Barack Obama’s assessment of Rahul Gandhi as lacking “either aptitude or passion to master the subject”, but multiple leaders within the party seem to agree privately.

Obama, in his memoir titled A Promised Land, has described Rahul as having “a nervous, unformed quality about him, as if he were a student who’d done the coursework and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject”.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet last week: “We don’t comment on individual’s views in a book.”

However, multiple senior Congress leaders told ThePrint called Obama’s assessment of Rahul Gandhi “apt”, and said the recent Bihar elections, where the Congress won just 19 of the 70 seats it contested, slowing down the Mahagathbandhan’s charge, is an example of his “shoddy leadership style”.

Also read: RJD says Rahul Gandhi was on picnic during Bihar polls, Congress blames ‘caste politics’

‘Lacks confidence and gravitas’

A senior Congress leader and former Lok Sabha MP told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity: “I am not a fan of Obama, but he is not wrong in his description. I wouldn’t say he (Rahul) is like a school kid, but more like an overenthusiastic recent college graduate. I find Rahul to be a fairly decent person with an open mind, and his heart in the right place. But he lacks confidence and gravitas, and it shows in his dealings.”

The leader added that Rahul Gandhi behaves “exactly how anyone who lacks knowledge in a subject they have to deal with every day would behave”.

“Modi knows nothing, but he is overconfident even while connecting climate change to old age. It’s good that Rahul isn’t like that at least,” the leader said.

“But I don’t think the problem is nervousness; some people are fidgety. The problem is that he doesn’t engage seriously with politics. Any serious leader in a politically important state like Bihar will start preparations six months in advance… They will not centre their rhetoric on China and Modi… He lacks that understanding,” the leader claimed.

Another prominent Congress leader from southern India said Rahul Gandhi’s “leadership style” is to be blamed for the party losing two Lok Sabha polls and multiple other state elections.

“It’s undeniable that the person who has been leading the Congress — earlier in a de jure capacity and now in a de facto capacity — is to be blamed for our electoral performances,” the second leader said.

“Obama’s assessment may be based on some brief interaction with him, but the real proof of the pudding is in our performances that have been going down. We don’t seem to have the wherewithal in most states to do well,” the leader added.

Also read: Here’s why Modi gets away with his gaffes, while Rahul Gandhi gets called Pappu

‘Rahul’s social media politics is myopic’

Another senior leader and functionary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) said “Rahul’s shortcomings lie in his approach”.

“I don’t know about his personality, but his weakness and shortcomings lie in his approach. His style of leadership isn’t what a political leader’s style should be when you are leading the country’s oldest political party,” this leader said.

“He is not heading the Democrats or Republicans, or Conservative or Labour… He is heading a party in a diverse country like India with 1.3 billion people. But his behaviour doesn’t reflect that,” the leader continued, adding that Rahul’s “social media politics is very myopic”.

“Did he check on the organisational preparation in Bihar? Forget that, do we have even 100 candidates ready for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls (in 2022)? This shows complacency,” the leader said.

Calls for introspection

Meanwhile, two senior Congress leaders — Kapil Sibal and Karti Chidambaram — Monday called for the party to introspect, after the drubbing it faced in the Bihar polls while its allies RJD and the Left parties did well.

“It’s time we introspect, ideate, consult & act,” Chidambaram, Sivaganga MP and son of former Union minister P. Chidambaram, tweeted.

Sibal questioned the Congress leadership’s silence on the Bihar results.

Also read: Obama’s appraisal of Rahul is no revelation, Congressmen’s outrage phoney and self-serving


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Obama is just another politician. Who does Congress or anybody from India give so much weigh to American opinion. As a nation, Indians need to come out of this habit of looking up to politicians/gods propagated from foreign lands. China does this well on both counts.

  2. Barry burns Rahul!
    The idiot thought a photo op with a backstabber and a dirty President of USA would spruce his image.

  3. Being born in a well known dynasty can carry a person forward only to some extent. One can brush aside domestic criticism as biased or vituparative. But, someone from abroad speaks his mind about Rahul Gandhi. All we hear is lame excuses and defences from his minions. Rahul Gandhi himself is deafeningly silent. He knows the truth best.

  4. Rahul is facing calossus like leader for the last 7 years. He was okay as long as UPA was in power, he could do no wrong. Now that the chips are down all congressmen have started finding faults in him. Strangely enough only leaders enjoying powers ( Gehlot, Amrinder, Baghel, Shiv Sena (read Maharashtra congress ) are defending him.
    He almost defeated BJP in Gujrat! He has the
    stamina and grit to come back, give him space. Do not go by Obama’s observations. Obama was not successful as president, he failed miserably to check China aggressions in SCS. Trump has very poor opinion of him.
    In future congress needs to contest elections solo, avoid going with regional thugs who are only interested in building family empires. We just need two national parties BJP and Congress. Pryianka should quit politics too many Gandhi’s are not liked groom another leader outside this family in due course.

    • If trump’s opinion mattered so much then why was he voted out by his own people. Doesn’t this fact itself undermine the fact that he is politically incapable of having an opinion on obama.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular