By Upendra Prasad
After being anointed as the Vice President of the Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi is concentrating on his party organization, but some news reports which relate to him, suggest that all is not well for him. He himself, after becoming the party VP, had revealed that the post of Prime Minister is not his priority and what he wanted was to strengthen Congress. But his close confidant Digvijay Singh made it explicit that Rahul would be the PM of the country, if Congress is voted to power again. He interpreted Rahul’s refusal for being dragged into the race of Prime Ministership by saying that no leader says that he is in politics to become Prime Minister. He further said that the experiment of having two power centres- one Prime Minister and another Party President, has failed, and that is why he would like Rahul to become PM himself, rather than appointing another person as Prime Minister.
Rahul did not care to refute that and it strengthened the impression that the declaration of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress candidate before the next Lok Sabha elections would be a formality and there would be no problem in it at least from within the Congress. But when the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was asked about his candidature for the Prime Ministership in the next Lok Sabha elections, he surprised many by not ruling out his candidature. He simply said, “Let the bridge come, then we will think of crossing it.” Congress leaders like Rashid Alvi and Rajiv Shukla claimed that the statement of Manmohan Singh was in response to a question of some journalist and nothing much should be read in that and that Rahul Gandhi would be the next Prime Minister, if Congress forms a government, because people (read Congressmen) want that.
Political observers were ready not to read much in that statement of Manmohan Singh, but another senior leader Janardan Dwivedi, who is believed to reflect the viewpoint of Sonia Gandhi gave a new twist to discussions regarding the Prime Ministerial candidate and Rahul Gandhi by claiming that the model of two power centres has worked well and this has become a time tested model for Congress for future too. Dwivedi’s unambiguous statement was in sharp contrast to the earlier statement of Digvijay Singh, which claimed that the model of two power centres had failed and Rahul must abandon it, if the party gets a chance in future to form government at the centre.
All these statements point out to the fact that Rahul might have become the Vice President of the Party and engaged himself in its work, but he is yet to get the total confidence of the party as a leader. Since he belongs to the first family of the party and Congressmen cannot accept any person from outside the family as their leader, he was assumed to not prove his capability to deliver for the party and show his leadership quality to give a new direction to it before taking over this oldest political organization of this country. But now it seems that all is not well for Rahul in the party at least in the run up to the next Lok Sabha elections. The reasons for it may be more than one.
The first reason may the apprehensions of Sonia and her close strategists about the capability of Rahul Gandhi to take on opposition at the moment, when the environment is not very conducive. For the last two years, the Central Government has been facing one corruption charge and another and it has failed to respond to these charges effectively. The movements against corruption have further weakened the party and in fact the campaign of Rahul Gandhi to induct more and more youth and students in the party could not succeed only because of these movements. Rahul was emerging as the voice of youth of the country, but the movement against corruption was also more or less a youth’s movement and Rahul Gandhi had no answers to protesting youth. That is why, at one time the leader of the youth of the country was not 40 year old Rahul, but it was 75 year old Anna Hazare, who emerged as the topmost leader of the youth of country, when he was sitting on this fast in Delhi.
Reports of corruption coming into media and long lasting price rise inflicted a crushing blow to the efforts of Rahul to unite youth of the country with Congress and thus make it a potent organization of the country again. His failure reflected into the defeat of the party in the Assembly Elections of two most important states of the country namely Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In both the states, Rahul Gandhi had full hold on the election preparations and campaign. Though, in Bihar he was controlling all things from behind, in Uttar Pradesh, he was leading his organization from the front. The defeat of Bihar was a big shock for Rahul, and the defeat in Uttar Pradesh was disastrous for his political future. In the backdrop of these defeats, it seems that Sonia Gandhi and her close associates do not want Rahul to lead Congress as potential PM in the next elections.
Another reason may be the general feeling of some Congress leaders about the capability of Rahul to lead the party. The reason is very clear. He is not clear on many issues confronting the country and he has never confronted the political challenges faced by his party during last two and half years. He got many opportunities during the movement against corruption to show his political acumen and engage himself in talks or otherwise with the youth on this issue. At times, whenever he has opened his mouth showing him as a leader with difference, he has done harm to his party, rather benefiting it. In Uttar Pradesh, to give him the image of an angry young man he asked its people how long would they continue begging in Maharashtra, which only hurt people of the state. In Punjab, he talked of the problem of drug addiction of the youth of the state in a manner, which only gave him negative publicity in the border state. He erred even in trying to play the politics of identity, when he introduced Sam Pitroda as an OBC of Carpenter Caste and once in a party meeting himself as a Brahmin. He also erred in going for Muslim Quota at the cost of Hindu OBCs, which annoyed the already aggrieved section of the society.
These may be reasons, why Sonia and her strategists do not want to put Rahul on stake during the Lok Sabha elections. This is the reason, why Manmohan Singh is saying that only after reaching the bridge, he will decide what to do. (IPA Service)