Saturday, December 16, 2017

Rahul Gandhi -- the new Congress president

Source: NDTV
So, the much-expected elevation has happened. A few hours ago, Rahul Gandhi, took over as the president of Indian National Congress.

I don't think anyone even in their wildest dreams thought Congress would have a different person - someone not in the Nehru family - as the president of the party.

There have been many non-Nehru family persons in that position. The most recent one I can remember is Sitaram Kesri, and before him P V Narasimha Rao. They followed Rajiv Gandhi and preceded Sonia Gandhi.

The shadow of Nehru family on the party has been particularly imposing in post-independent India, though there has been lot of discussion and debates on the subject of how the Congress should not be a party controlled overtly and covertly by the Nehru family members. But that simply hasn't happened.

Is there anything wrong in a Nehru family member being the party president?

Theoretically, no. But it's a well-known fact, though not articulated by any Congress worker, that any Nehru family member is the first among the equals. That would have been less objected to, if the person, Rahul now, had a wealth of experience in politics and / or public service. His only qualification is that he is a member of the Nehru family. Shouldn't the Congress president have a more robust resume?

Not many ardent Congress supporters are happy about this development. They all wish that more competent and accomplished persons should be given a chance to helm India's oldest political party. Everyone just accepts what is happening as nothing but a fait accompli.

Why is the Nehru family not taking a back seat?

The only reason I can think of is a deep sense of insecurity. They have been in this comfort zone for far too long, and they can't even vaguely visualize a time when they are just ordinary members in a party they tightly control.

However, the earlier the family realizes that their stranglehold on the party, isn't helping, the better.

Now that Rahul is at the helm, what should be his strategy?

Adding to the problem of the family's overarching hold on the party, is the fact that Rahul doesn't have a good strategy to take on the BJP, and Narendra Modi. He has been basically only criticising Modi; and those criticisms aren't quite convincing either.

Aadhaar and GST, are two major policy decisions over which Modi is being hauled over the coals. But those aren't even BJP's or Modi's ideas. They have been in the works right from the time UPA was in power. Modi just carried it through and implemented. Could Modi have done better. May be, but Congress isn't telling how.

Congress says Modi's administration is only all show and noise, that nothing much has changed, on the ground. But Congress hasn't been able to prove that nothing has changed. So, since politics is all about perception, people are generally happy, that "Modi is doing a lot".

What Rahul could have done, and should do, is showcase his government's achievements in the states where Congress is ruling. Showcasing deeds done, works better than running someone down relentlessly.