By Anirudh Singla
History books have traced the ascent of Gandhi family lineage to Congress party leadership ever since Indian National Congress sprouted roots in Indian politics since its inception. For several years now, the Congress High command has dined out on its lineage and ‘tried’ to produce leaders to the fore. When Indira Gandhi decided to step up after Jawahar Lal Nehru’s death, her leadership and tactical thinking made her a formidable politician. Her sons, Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi somehow were drifted into the political arena due to conditions created that left the Indian National Congress with no one but the more favoured son to turn to. Fast forward to the current dynamics and the picture is no less different. The general image of Rahul Gandhi, the son, grandson and great-grandson of prime-ministers of this country, is widely seen as deficient in purpose and his sleep-catching ability.
The rise and Fall of Rahul of Rahul Gandhi
When Rahul Gandhi had returned to India in 2002, Congress’ surprise victory against the NDA was a major boost. With the Gandhi scion chosen as the representative of the ‘safe’ seat of Amethi, it was evident that Manmohan Singh’s elevation as the Prime Minister was seen as a ‘seat warmer’ for Gandhi to take over when he was more capable. In reforms brought upon by him within the party, reorganizing the party’s youth wing and student union along with his major emphasis on choosing leaders through internal elections, brought some hope for his image amongst the party. Also, 2009’s General Elections, UPA’s victory revived hopes of its returning to the pole position and Rahul Gandhi was also credited with improvements in figures in UP especially. The second term for UPA spelt misfortune in its entirety as scandals such as the 2010 CWG scam, telecom scan along with the anti-corruption campaign led by Anna Hazare shook entire foundations and the downfall started with political blame being raised to the Gandhi family at the start.
The reluctant dynast?
One must also not forget the violent turn of events that led to the loss of family, not once but twice in the Gandhi family. Rahul had once said, “What I saw when I was a child was my father who was a pilot, and because of circumstances was thrown into the political system, and all I saw when was small after my grandmother died was my father in constant – constant combat with the system in India, and then I saw him die, actually”. Maybe, the dogged belief that the family legacy is more important than the peace of one’s mind is a bitter truth that needs to be understood by Congress. As of now, one can count the number of formal interviews, Rahul Gandhi has given on the fingers of one hand. Long stretches of unexplained absences from the Indian political scene along with invalidated remarks raise serious questions of whether he is actually interested in politics at all, or as Foreign Policy terms him as, “just another miserable son trapped in the family business”. At this stage, Indira Gandhi had already assumed the presidency of the Indian National Congress while Rajiv Gandhi had completed 4/5’th of his Prime Ministerial term.
Rising dissent amongst insiders
Famous Historian Ramachandra Guha had once said that Rahul Gandhi “is the first member of his family not to command the respect even of his party men.” With the BJP in favourable positions of power in all avenues, Congress has to realise that it should not be content with being part of the supporting cast to other parties and play second fiddle to regional players. Their time for satisfying their stomach with bread-crumbs should ideally be over and their dependence on the Gandhi lineage is the first roadblock, they must clear. Former ministers and party members of the Congress have also started raising their voices in response to impertinent leadership and have begun to turn during media interviews. Reinventing themselves as a modern secular party that bases its principles on ideas rather than dynastic politics is what is needed as a pragmatic approach. In these testing times, when a clear validated decision needs to be made, not being decisive is putting a nail in the coffin. With the end of the –Nehru-Gandhi dynasty being predicted a lot of times, it will be safe to assume that the end is probably near.
Featured Image source: Visualhunt
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius