Monday, December 28, 2015

Rahul Gandhi doing a Ctrl+Alt+Delete

Pankaj Sharma

28 December 2015

‘I am absolutely against the concept of Dynasty. But you are not going to wish away Dynasty in a closed system; you have to open the system’.

Rahul Gandhi was accused of switching between sudden bursts of enthusiasm and long absences from the frontlines. Even his own partymen were confused with his off/on style of conducting politics. But, as the Indian National Congress celebrates its 130th Foundation Day today, we see a new and improved Rahul Gandhi doing a Ctrl+Alt+Delete on his previous stint in politics.

For almost a year after May 2014, Narendra Modi has been the only political story in the country. It had become a horrible nightmare for the Congress party which was reduced to a tally of only 44 members in the Lok Sabha. To make matters worse, earlier this year, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi disappeared for two months. It had given the required fuel to his critics within and outside the party. They are now speechless, witnessing Rahul’s political performance after his return from a 56-day sabbatical in mid-April this year. Since his return, Rahul has been news like never before. His efforts to win back the Congress party’s lost ground are yielding results. Moreover, he has shown the ability to land strong punches with sharp comments—many of which have stuck on Modi’s suit-boot permanently.

I recall the last week of January 2014 when Rahul had given his “first formal interview” to a TV channel. The media, then, was in no mood to listen to the sensible arguments coming from him. They had tried to paint the 80-minute event as his “worst blunder”. I still feel that Rahul had remarkably faced the unnecessarily loud anchor who equates himself to “nation” and always “wants to know” about many irrelevant things. Rahul had stressed on seven very important points during the interview while expressing his mind. But his critics systematically worked on a design to keep them out from the political discourse by making fun of what he said. The points he made were:

“Democracy is about respect of processes. Democracy is about non-arbitrary decisions. Democracy is about spreading decisions; it is not about destroying processes.”

“There is absolutely nothing I am scared of. I have an aim. I do not like what I see in Indian politics. The system in this country needs to change, I don’t see anything else and I am blind to everything else. I am blind because the system is unfair to our people. So the question of whether I am afraid of losing an election or whether I am afraid of Mr. Modi is not actually the point. I am here basically for one thing, I see tremendous energy in this country, I see more energy in this country than any other country, I see billions of youngsters and I see this energy is trapped.”

“The BJP believes in concentration of power in the hands of one person. I fundamentally disagree with that; I believe in democracy, I believe in opening up the system. I believe in giving power to our people. We have fundamentally different philosophies. Our attack on the BJP is based on the idea that this country needs to move forward democratically, it needs to push democracy deeper into the country.”

“What the Congress Party need to do is tap into its potential. What the Congress party needs to do is change the way its organisation is structured and look at changing the way politics in this country is structured, that is where I think we should head. It is about opening the doors of the congress party, about empowering the youth.”

“I don’t actually keep invoking my family name. I didn’t choose to be born in this family; I didn’t sign up and say that I like to be born in this family, it happened, so the choice in front of me is pretty simple. I can either turn around and say okay I will just walk away from this thing and leave it alone or I can say I can try and improve something. I am absolutely against the concept of Dynasty. But you are not going to wish away Dynasty in a closed system; you have to open the system. The reason children of politicians keep getting repositioned is because the system is closed. The system is not going to open by waving a wand and saying Abracadabra—let us open the system. It is going to take effort and it is going to take structure.”

“I’m being attacked because I’m doing things and asking questions that are dangerous to the system. And I’m not asking superficial questions. That’s why I’m attacked. I understand that. And frankly, attack me all you want. Beat me to death. It’s not going to stop me. I’m going to keep doing it. Keep throwing stones at us. People who are attacked in this system are the ones fighting the system.”

“I don’t like unfairness. It just makes my blood boil. And in whatever I did, if I saw unfairness, I would stand up against it. That’s the heart of my politics. Power per se, the quest for power, the thirst for power, is not there in me. What is there in me is a strong desire to reduce the pain that people feel as a result of the system that is predatory.”

Tell me, which part of this conversation elicited any criticism? The heart of Rahul’s politics will put the Congress party back on its feet in 2016. I hope he will be allowed to overhaul his party by sidelining deadweights. Congress has too many rootless wanderers in important positions with absolutely no idea about the pulse of the people. They have been the primary reason of Rahul’s inconsistent political behavior in the past. It seems that Rahul has come out of their shadow in last few months. 

In taking on rivals both within and outside the Congress, Rahul has strongly indicated this very fact. Indian politics will get very interesting in the coming year with a radical change in his personality and approach. He has shown signs of having a clear, inclusive, and credible strategy that appeal to the majority. May the New Year give Rahul Gandhi new vigour!

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