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Why Do We Love To Hate Rahul Gandhi?

Two days back, while scrolling through my facebook feed, I came upon a live video of a speech by Rahul Gandhi. It was already halfway through, but I decided to stop scrolling past him (which is what I would have done normally) and watch the video. At this point, Rahul Gandhi was amidst a Q&A session. He was talking about Congress being a conversational party and that at some point a certain arrogance had crept into the party in 2012 and they stopped having those conversations with the people. I continued listening to him and I thought to myself… that’s a huge confession for a political leader to make! That they erred big time. More importantly, he doesn’t come across as ‘pappu’ as the mainstream media has led me to believe. I realised most of us have stopped listening to him just because we have a strong ‘loser’ image of him in our minds which tells us that this man knows nothing. And whatever he is, he got it through ‘virasat (inheritance)’.

And I wondered, where has this image of him come from? It has certainly come from the countless memes and Rahul Gandhi jokes we see on our social media feeds. The idea also got strengthened when Congress was defeated badly in the 2014 General Elections under his leadership. But when he spoke of RTI and how providing the public with such a powerful tool of government accountability actually led to their defeat and when he spoke of realising that the neoliberal model of governance had stopped working… those admissions from him made me wonder, is there something more to this politician that we have been made to miss? A side of him that has been deliberately kept away from us so that only one narrative of ‘how my leader should be’ is propagated?

Most of the people on my friend list ridiculed him. Some continued mocking the ‘pappu’. The ones who still call him that don’t even bother to watch his speeches or listen to what he has to say. I don’t blame them either, we are all prey to the strong hoop-la which has successfully been injected into our minds about him. Others called him trivial, banal and not charismatic enough. Most leftists latched onto the dynasty comment or the numbers that he got wrong regarding the official languages in India and seats in the parliament. I also feel that for some, it is that time of the month on their timelines when they can declare, “Hey look! I am criticising Rahul Gandhi as well, so you see, unlike what you think of me, I am not just a right wing basher or a Congress supporter (because, well, supporting Congress or saying anything in their favour is so uncool these days) but I am completely unbiased in my political opinions, whether right or left.”

Frankly, now I find those statuses a bit absurd. To begin with, I can’t blame the ones who don’t even watch what he has to say, because I was one of them. I hardly cared what Rahul Gandhi had to say until the thought that I might have to make do with our current government and its leaders without any alternative to think about for the next 5 years bothered me so much that I started to look for options within opposition leaders that we currently have. To them, my suggestion would be: go beyond the Rahul Gandhi memes online to get a much clearer idea of the person. If you still don’t like him great! Just YouTube his speech at Dr B R Ambedkar International Conference in Bengaluru and his Q&A session at Doon School where he takes questions from all age groups.

Sure, he is not the best speaker we have and takes long pauses when reading from his paper, but is that all the reason we need to not listen to him? Or because he makes few minor errors while speaking, which are turned into parodies later? All this at the cost of completely ignoring what he actually said at a particular event. I don’t see us grilling our current PM for saying ‘Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi’ or for saying that Alexander was defeated by the Biharis. Modi’s foreign trips make headlines but Rahul Gandhi’s visits to Gorakhpur following the death of 70 children only find fleeting reports on TV. I did not know about the visit myself until I saw it on YouTube while searching for some other details on him. That particular video had just fifty views.

Then others called him banal. Yeah, sure, topics like non-violence, love, compassion, secularism are boring Buddhist and liberal ideologies, especially when they miss the dramatic voice and hand movements of PM Narendra Modi. Unemployment, the obvious failure of demonetization are the topics we have been discussing everywhere in this country. But Rahul Gandhi mentioning the same at Berkley becomes insulting our country on foreign soil. Wel, the current government has actually insulted the common people’s minds for taking us on a ride with its current policies like demonetization. Here, I am seeing an opposition leader who is talking about working with the small and medium scale industries to turn them into global opportunities for employment. He is talking about agriculture and poor people.  How much of it will actually work out, time will tell, and his actions will speak if he ever gets elected as the PM. But aren’t these the issues which even we, as common people of this country, want to talk about? Of jobs, of inflation, of growing tensions between communities, of inequalities? If Narendra Modi was given a chance based on precisely these issues, why can Rahul Gandhi not be given a chance to represent the opposition on the same?

So, Narendra Modi has the Gujarat Model (which is of debatable merit) to show as his homework. What does Rahul Gandhi have? A corrupt UPA regime? I am yet to find a single explosive proven allegation against Rahul Gandhi in his 14-year long career as a politician.  Even amidst all the corruption in UPA, Rahul Gandhi has managed to stay clean. Can that say something about his personal character?

Now, before you bring in the brother-in-law and the mother, can I request that for once we see him as a politician? As an individual, and not a shehzada who has come from a powerful dynasty? Why can’t he have ideologies and principles completely opposite of his mother? I and my father don’t agree on most things. But we belong to the same family and we have to live with it. Why can it not be the same for Rahul Gandhi? Why do we conclude that he is just like his mother (whatever our perception of her is) or that he represents the entirety of the corrupt Congress?

The current narrative sounds like Congress lost only because of Rahul Gandhi’s inefficiency, and their loss had little to do with the party’s corruption, which must have gone out of his hands just like Gau Rakshaks have gone out of the hands of our PM today. The discussions about Rahul Gandhi and his failure revolve more around mocking him on a personal level than critiquing him for his work. Both of these subjects have become the same now, and one can’t tell the difference. This looks like malicious propaganda set loose.

Yet, we let our current PM have all these options. He can be synonymous with the ruling party, but when it pleases him, he can be himself, away from the party. We don’t allow these luxuries to Rahul Gandhi at all. Why? Because we have been taught to hate him and not look at him with any interest. We listen to him yet dissect him not on the merits of his arguments, but based on the fact that it is Rahul Gandhi who is speaking. How can one take Rahul Gandhi seriously, right? The focus is on the storyteller and not on the story, and because we have cultivated this bias against the storyteller, we don’t bother to listen to his stories. Isn’t that a very narrow way of looking at things?

This is what I conclude when I see more and more memes being made about him and all the speeches he makes. It is like we don’t want to let him talk. And it’s interesting how, even after all this, the man still speaks his mind.  So much ridicule, so much hatred directed towards him but he still appears calm and composed. I don’t see him coming back with anger and vengeance when he speaks after being severely trolled. I see hope in such an unaffected politician. Even though he is a politician, I must say.

NREGA, RTI, Right to Food, Land Acquisition Act, democratising the internal structure of Congress by electing young leaders, have been amongst the most progressive changes this country has ever seen. No one would want to believe that Rahul Gandhi had anything to do with these reforms. These reforms have no value for the middle class because, well, we deserve something as earth-shattering as demonetization and GST to happen to our lives. And whatever be the outcome, good, bad, or horrible, we Indians are ready to accept it as our fate.

As a liberal, I see some hope in Rahul Gandhi. Not absolute hope, but some hope, yes. This hope is not in his politics. He is yet to display that to us with his vision of fighting unemployment and corruption. But the hope is in his ideologies. As a concerned citizen, I would request him to come out more often, talk more personally to us. And in today’s day and age this is very easily achievable. It doesn’t need any heavy investment to be out there. If it’s the age of wrong information and fake news, it is also the age of instant, easy and direct communication between common people and their leaders. Rahul should be available to us everywhere, engaging with us. That’s my complaint.

The politics of Congress has been a disappointment for a while now and that too under his leadership. We still don’t see them giving a tough fight to BJP. In all of this, I can sense Rahul’s intent, but I can’t see his actions. And unless that happens, there is nothing worth fighting for and standing up for!

You must be to comment.
  1. Krishna Singh

    I dont hate Rahul Gandhi. I hate his class and the class he and his party serve.
    Capitalist class, which is in extreme minority, less than 5% but lords over the rest, who are workers, peasants, tribes and in real sense the masters of the country, who “elect” the government, but which by design serves the capitalist class only.
    I hate his class collaborators, BJP and all other allies today or yesterday to share the power, money, facilities. They also include the pseudo communist parties, who have long back ditched the working class, the real creators of the social wealth!
    Hence I love, who hate capitalism and work for the dream of Socialist Bhagat SIngh!

    1. Anto Kin

      You are a socialist, I understand but socialist experiment is a failure. Everything has it’s demerits. Though it has flaws, I would go with democracy and capitalism.. Great article anyway. Am neutral right now and not siding with anyone. But of course I have some bias against BJP.

  2. Antony Titus

    You know…. The politician in him didn’t speak when Lokpal Bill was being neglected for long. The politician in him didn’t speak when his own party was embroiled in scams all across India. The politician in him speaks only for his convenience. We are all educated and we know to distinguish right from wrong and what’s funny as a meme and what’s serious news. Modi too gets bashed up, for e.g. the recent incident where he started walking by mistake while the national anthem was being played in Russia was also circulated across the social media platform. But when the nation sees a scam free govt for 3 years, a serious answer to Pakistan in the form of surgical attacks (which btw, even our Rahul Baba appreciated out of no choice) and when you see a PM who connects with his country once every month through Mann Ki Baat, are some of the most simplest reasons why Rahul needs a lot of catching up work to do… Just taking holidays for 50 days to Thailand in 2015 and now study tour off to the US are not what we expect out of a person who aspires to lead the country.

    India gave Congress a lot of opportunities – “A LOT”. And even when they elected Modi, it was a case of choosing the “lesser of two evils”. There’s no other party in the country capable of governance. People were fed up of Congress and that’s when BJP came into power. So you can imagine, how much were our countrymen and women were frustrated….!!

    He needs to rebuild himself…. He needs to take that effort… I am happy with good governance, be it Congress or BJP; Modi or Rahul… Right now I see the efforts from BJP…. Congress is only busy trying to push BJP down and they believe that’s the best way out. What they have forgotten here is that they have to uplift themselves…. Which is the last thing on their agenda right now.

  3. River Jamir

    A very well thought out , in depth analysed piece of writing about Rahul Gandhi in a long time. Speech alone never made a good person, let alone a great leader. It’s time we listen to not how dramatic but what he has to say about his idea of India and what his party has accomplished when he was an MP like RTI, MNREGA, RTE etc. These are powerful empowerment acts. I feel the current dispensation is all hot air and less substance. None of their policies like demonitisation, gst , seems to be working in favour of majority of us indians

  4. DEEPAK PALAN

    Whatever one may say in favor or against , the point is , he is kniwn to make baseless statements allegations etc which does not have logic or reasoning which has landed him in trouble in the courts as well as made him the subject of jokes .The name pappu was coined , not because of any conspiracy , but because of his own display of his thinking prowress thru his statements

  5. Manohar Shinde

    Well, Shaheen I respect your views on Mr. Rahul Gandhi and I must tell you that my family, since beginning of electoral system laid, was ardently following INC. We didn’t cooked or had food for two days when Indiraji was assassinated, I didn’t understood the logic behind our starvation but, later I understood that she was loved by masses as she was the hope for masses as she spoke about Garibi hatao. I grew up watching movies like Trshul, which demonstrated unemployment of skilled and capable youth. I was more surprised when I watched still older movies of Manoj Kumar and Rajendra Kumar.. the problem of unemployment remains just not in the movies but, it reciprocates on land too in most pathetic form. Later on I completed my ph. D and assimilated lot of skills but remained unemployed. I asked a question to myself, despite having given coverage of our published research by PTI service India, though our research convinced international scientific community to invite us for postdoctoral positions, why there are no takers inland. Change struck me when industry started approaching us when Menaka Gandhi became Union Minister for Environment during Vajpayiji’s Govt. The Govt.
    spearheaded some applied programmes that gave me temporal respite as I got a job, though, it was temporary, it left a significant mark on my mind that functional Govt’s can provide opportunities. My problem was not just my problem but, it was the problem of millions. The bad policies of the then Congress Govt. spoiled my generation people by prolonging the discussion to recruit teachers and scientists for higher education and research institutions? What I can see is, the new generation politicians like Rahul Gandhi, even after 14 years of his political experience simply speaks about Garibi Hatao and have done nothing for the skilled masses. However, Govt’s have coined some ways to shun away like, free PDS distribution, MNREGA etc,
    due to u accountability, poor deliverables and massive mismanagement actually has done bad then any good. These programmes, though hailed by some, in reality, they broke the rural team work. I strongly believe that all these problems would’ve been addressed if Congress would’ve fought against corruption. I go with the people who work for the corruption free India, B’Coz I understand my children would get jobs only if corruption is properly addressed.

  6. Shraddhanand Bhatnagar

    let me be apolitical first-
    Well after reading this i have got some respect for this Guy as a person ( Not as a leader .)

    Have a look a attributes of leadership

    (1) Leader must have ability to make people to listen him . ( Does He – No , U cant blame people for not listening him )

    (2) Leader must have a good humor. its very important attribute ( does He – No )

    (3) Leader must have a vision . ( does he – u may say yes , but sorry people are convinced apart from him many congress leaders have)

    (4) Leader must have ability to respond ( Does he – absolutely Not )

    Suppose a class teacher have to choose a monitor for class . And option are below
    A – boy who has ability to make class listen to him and nit easily bullied by class and if ha can handle
    it too but he is average in marks.
    B – A Boy who is bullied by class and cant make class to listen to him though he is good at marks
    I dont think that anyone would probable pick up B .

    Summary – Rahul Gandhi may be good but He is mocked because he lacks the competence to sit on
    position in which he is sitting right now . Even the State Level president of any Congress Party would be
    better than him in quality.

    For Years Media was similarly unfair to Modi also . He managed and come out of it candidly . Unfortunately RaGa
    seem not to be recovered atleast in near future

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