Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lets watch a new Rahul Gandhi

Pankaj Sharma

20 April 2015, New Delhi, 

Congress vice-president is ready to lead from the front in upcoming Parliament session.

Rahul Gandhi is back from his brief sabbatical. These two months, when Rahul had taken time off, were full of political gossip and baseless speculation. Most of the gossip doing the rounds was predicting that Rahul’s days in active politics were over. These political pundits must now be shocked to see Rahul back in action and that too full of zest and vigour. When news of Rahul Gandhi’s sudden leave of absence became public, there was a mixed reaction of sorts in the political arena. 

Even some of the senior Congressmen felt that Rahul had chosen an inopportune time to take a sabbatical. Every self-proclaimed political insider had a different story about his location, reason for taking a sabbatical and the date of his return. To me this trivia was never important, as I have been watching his style of politics for more than a decade. 

The first clear indication of Rahul Gandhi’s strong political will and determination was seen five years back, when he went to Bihar in February 2010. Nitish Kumar, who is now with the Yadav duo--Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh, was a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) ally then; and Ramvilas Paswan, who is now with BJP, was roaming hand in hand with Lalu Prasad Yadav back then. The writing on the wall for Congress back in 2010 election was so clear that a majority of its central and state leadership had already given up. Rahul, however, was not ready to accept defeat without a fight. In the end the Congress could win only 4 seats, but the fact remains that due to Rahul’s combative leadership, a party, which was trying to survive with the help of leaders from other political outfits, got 24.31 lakh votes. Also, the party’s candidates found some firm ground under their feet in 243 constituencies. It must be noted that in 2005, the Congress was virtually absent in Bihar. Therefore the advantage Rahul Gandhi gave to the Congress was the presence of its flag and workers at all the assembly segments in 2010.

Bihar will go to elections again in November this year. This event would be the first litmus test for Rahul Gandhi. Despite a concerted and pre-meditated effort at insinuations and innuendos by the BJP and others, a vast majority of Congressmen across the country were never in any doubt that these two months were a period of political introspection and contemplation aimed at laying down a well thought out road map for the future. Rahul Gandhi is no Amit Shah and the Congress is no BJP. Any well meaning individual would have chosen to prepare before taking on any such a major responsibility. In this regard, Rahul took a leave of absence to think through key issues. This is exactly what Rahul did. There is nothing wrong in taking a sabbatical.

However there is something egregiously wrong in taking over the reins of a party and marginalising its senior most leaders ruthlessly. This is not the way the Congress and its leadership functions.
 We saw Rahul Gandhi guide the Congress on each and every issue of importance and consequence during this period of contemplation. His indelible stamp can be seen on every decision and action that the Congress party took during the past couple of months, that led it to establish a clear line of attack on the anti-people and anti-farmer policies of Narendra Modi-led central government.

Immediately after coming back from his sabbatical, Rahul met a delegations of farmers and launched a massive attack on BJP’s anti-poor policies at the Kisan Rally held in the national capital this Sunday. One thing is clear: Rahul Gandhi has been fighting for the have-nots and has dedicated himself to this cause for a very long time. His efforts are bound to yield results sooner or later.

It is irrelevant where Rahul Gandhi was for these two months. What matters is whether his sincerity is unquestionable or not? Whether his sense of purpose and dedication to the cause of the poor of India is unquestionable or not? Is he leading the Congress from the front and exposing Narendra Modi’s pro-corporate government or not? These are the questions that need to be answered.

It is no wonder that the Modi brigade is jittery about his return. Within three days of Rahul’s return it is evident that all speculations in the media space about an internal crisis in the Congress were baseless and deliberately manufactured propaganda on BJP’s part, which has failed miserably. 

Nobody could have imagined till a few weeks back that the Congress party still has the organisational capacity to unify a mass movement and vocalize the distress of farmers against the draconian Land Acquisition Ordinance of the Modi-led government. I have no doubt that Rahul Gandhi is well aware of the massive responsibility that lies upon his able shoulders; the responsibility of protecting our pluralism, multi-culturalism and democratic traditions against the constant onslaught of sectarian, divisive and dictatorial forces. 

He understands that the Congress party’s onwards march has to take into consideration multiple aspects of immediate responses, long term strategies, ideological reaffirmation, course correction and a robust response to people’s aspirations. There are also expectations from the Congress party that Rahul has to fulfill. It is the right time for Rahul Gandhi to go off in a new direction, with complete confidence that he is leading his people in the right direction.

Author is Editor & CEO of News Views India

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