What does it take to be an effective, inspiring and result-oriented political leader in a society that has been marked for centuries by caste and religious differences, where multiple political parties supporting varied ideologies spend more time bickering than seeking constructive solutions ?
Well, you definitely don’t have to be a Gandhi, for one thing, and that despite the fact that Gandhi in Rahul Gandhi does indeed hold a very apparent reference to an overwhelming political prestige and power of no ordinary kind. Rahul Gandhi was perhaps believed to be destined to live a powerful political life taking after his parents, grandmother and great grandfather. However, nine years since he made his foray into politics, it might now be pertinent to ask – to what purpose?
Rahul Gandhi entered the political arena in 2004 and has since then successfully proved to the Indian public that despite ample wealth, power and societal status, the lack of effective oratory skills and charisma to connect with the people who have the power to elect can act as a major party pooper for any mildly ambitious political leader. Solely by virtue of his “noble” birth and not so much on account of his ability and qualifications, he was the recipient of an easy Congress ticket into politics. He contested from and won in his father’s constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, and talk emerged that the man might make the cut in the competitive race to become the next Prime Minister of India, just like his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru.
This might have actually materialized, had Rahul Gandhi made good of the ample opportunity that came his way. He portrayed himself as a champion in youth politics, but has largely failed in his half-hearted attempts to win them over. In 2007, his mother gladly thrust unto him the responsibility of heading the Indian Youth Congress and National Students Union of India under the UPA government in the hope that it would teach him much about working the reigns in a fiercely competitive political scenario, but not to significant use. The next few years saw him landing up at every troubled constituency held by a Congress MLA, sympathizing with farmers and other rural inhabitants, championing others’ causes and pretending they were his very own, making promises that he had little intention of ensuring implementation of.
While the AAP made its presence felt in a matter of months, Rahul Gandhi has failed in making anything close to an earth-shattering impact and much of it has to do with his lack of initiative to challenge the status quo. After two long, seemingly endless terms, the last thing India needs is another puppet for PM who shies away from public limelight and works simply under the directions of the Congress High Command, i.e. Sonia Gandhi. The need of the hour is a proactive, charismatic political leader who undertakes effective action necessary to ensure welfare because appearing at all the right places at the right time with all the right people, whether it’s at Srinagar with the sarpanchs, or with the betel farmers in Uttar Pradesh, will help him little in his efforts to win the hearts of the people.
The Gandhi grandson has yet to realize that he failed to significantlyÂ challenge Â the current state of affairs in the country, and bring a new idea to the table that will make people get up and take notice. Being no outsider to politics in India, he has little to differentiate himself from any other leader of the party by virtue of the fact that it is simply the attractive packaging that is Rahul Gandhi that has made certain sections of the Indian public more inclined to know what he has to say, albeit it is not long before they eventually come to the realization that he is just the mouthpiece through which Congress chooses to propagate its age-old ideologies in the false hope that they can be passed off as new and improved.
Another essential question may be with respect to the qualifications that he holds. Manmohan Singh had once offered him a ministerial berth and he politely declined, thereby creating an unfavourable opinion about his willingness to take on responsibility on account of his possible ineptitude. An unimpressive degree in philosophy and international relations would help him little in making crucial economic decisions that affect India’s economy, throwing light on his political inexperience and raising rather legitimate doubts regarding his competence in holding his own while heading a ministry of well educated, qualified persons responsible for governing the country.
One of the most basic and fundamental qualities of a leader is the ability to tear away from his own comfortable social circle to venture out and pay attention to what persons belonging to other schools of thought might have to say, instead of holding on furiously to one’s own ideals without the slightest inclination to listen impartially to the logicality of opinions that may be polar opposite to one’s own. It is almost inconceivable today to imagine Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi conducting a productive discussion with the aim of an actual intellectual exchange of viewpoints.
It is essential that the Prime Ministerial post belong to a well educated visionary, an independent thinker having the power to bring about change without being egged on by someone else from behind the scenes if justice is to be done to it, and I hardly think Rahul Gandhi fits the bill. As common people with the power to reason, right to vote and a limited tolerance for incompetence that crossed its threshold a long time ago, we must realize that it is entirely against our interests to bring to power another Congress protÃ©gÃ© for a third term who is only but a walking puppet in the hands of Sonia Gandhi, with neither the ability nor the inclination to think and act for oneself when alternative parties such as the AAP still have much promise.