Opinion » Lead

Updated: February 23, 2013 00:49 IST

The monarch and the mask

Vidya Subrahmaniam
Comment (51)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

It is a hard choice between the presumptive heir of a century-old political family and the man who wants every Indian cast in his own image

The time to choose is here — or so it would seem judging from the speed with which people are picking sides. The decision is thought to be especially inescapable for those of us conferred the appellation “pseudo-secular”: With Narendra Modi looming large on the electoral horizon, there apparently cannot be any more ifs and buts for us.

Yet it is a depressing choice between Rahul Gandhi and Modi. Though neither has officially been named his party’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014, and many difficulties persist on this score, the prevailing wisdom is that the face-off is unavoidable. Assuming — and only assuming — this will be so, let us see what could be in store.

One is a 40ish something presumptive heir of a long-running political dynasty with a predilection for renunciation; its members come around eventually because they see leadership as their ordained duty. The other is an abrasive, authoritarian regional satrap who having cast his State’s population of “six crore” in his own image, wants to do the same thing to all Indians alive. One gives the impression that he has been carried into his new job kicking and screaming. The other’s vision is a billion Modis.

Tears, sacrifice, destiny

Rahul could be “the reluctant monarch” in the tradition of George VI and Queen Elizabeth-II instead of the second-in command of the largest democracy’s largest political party. For eight long years he resisted the role marked out for him. Just as his parents resisted the roles marked out for them.

The day before his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne, the soon-to-be King George VI went to see their mother, Mary of Teck. He didn’t want to be king, he told her, and wrote in his diary: “I broke down and sobbed like a child.” But destiny beckoned him as it did his daughter Elizabeth for whom too the throne was an obligation “she never wanted” but was bound to discharge, as is evident from the title of the 1998 television biography Elizabeth: The Reluctant Monarch.

Tearful accession has been the story of India’s First Family — at least since the assassination of Indira Gandhi which saw Rajiv installed in her place in an imitation of royal succession. Indira’s death was announced at 6 p.m. on October 31, 1984. Within the hour, Rajiv had been sworn in. He was only a Congress general secretary then, and at age 40, aeons junior to veterans such as P.V. Narasimha Rao, Pranab Mukherjee and S.B. Chavan. Sonia was in tears over this transition and had to surrender after Rajiv told her that while he knew what power entailed, he could not flinch from doing his duty. Rajiv’s 1981 political debut was as fiercely opposed by Sonia, who would record in her own words that she “fought (it) like a tigress”, and finally, “I would bow to those forces which were beyond me to fight.” The party demanded him as “a sacrificial lamb..,” she recorded (Rajiv by Sonia Gandhi, Penguin Books, 1992).

Sonia’s own political career carried forward the family’s history of tears, resistance and destiny. For seven years, she stonewalled anguished party pleas to take her rightful place, finally succumbing to her karmic duty in March 1998. Biographer Rani Singh quotes from TV clips of a rare Sonia’s interview: “.. each time I walked past those photographs (of Rajiv’s and Indira’s) I felt I wasn’t responding to my duty, the duty to this family and the country.” Though the ungainly manner in which she displaced then Congress chief Sitaram Kesri suggested larger ambitions, Sonia would spurn the chance to be Prime Minister when the time came, setting the stage for a fresh enactment of “tears and entreaties” by inconsolable Congresspersons. That Manmohan Singh was standing in for Rahul was always known. And so when Rahul arrived, it was with a sense of destiny. His futile resistance would end typically: with his mother’s tears. “Last night my mother came to my room and she sat with me and she cried … because she understands that the power so many seek is actually a poison…,” Rahul recalled in his speech post his promotion to Congress vice-president.

Thus it is that another Nehru-Gandhi has drunk the poison of power — not by his own will but by predestination, by cosmic decree. To be fair to the family, there was little of this shying away in the early Nehrus. Political historian B.R. Nanda records that “Motilal’s early incursions into politics were reluctant, brief and sporadic” but that he plunged himself fully into it, becoming Congress president in 1919 and 1928, after being convinced of the righteousness of Mahatma Gandhi’s path. Jawaharlal was of course the Mahatma’s chosen one. But the idealism of the time ensured that power was viewed, not as greed, but as a means towards nation-building.

Indira will probably go down as the only Nehru-Gandhi who wielded power for its own sake. She was ruthless, dictatorial and Machiavellian in the way she carried out internal and external purges. And yes, she put in place a drill for family members to follow. Each time she was in crisis — the worst one was in June 1975 when she was unseated by a court judgment for electoral malpractice — she would gather around her masses of breast-beating Congresspersons who would implore her to stay on for the sake of the party. The act has since been restaged multiple times. Unending petitions from partypersons preceded Rajiv’s induction as general secretary. When Sharad Pawar targeted Sonia’s foreign ancestry in 1999, she resigned as party chief, causing despairing Congresspersons to assemble in tens of thousands outside 10 Janpath. They would turn up again when she refused to be Prime Minister. The chorus would also nudge and re-nudge Rahul to his place in the firmament.

The pattern of tears, sacrifice and mass appeals raises one question: Agreed Rahul sounds sincere as did his father. But how does destiny square with democracy and for how long? The reference to family in Rahul’s Jaipur speech moved his party to tears — but of course — but family has been the running theme since he filed his nomination from Amethi in 2004. He spoke then of people running after the train that carried his father’s ashes: “I thought I must do something for the people who loved my father.” Sonia said memories of her husband flooded her mind when she saw Rahul file his nomination from Amethi.

In 2019, the clan would complete 100 years of active political existence. For the chain not to break, the call of duty must extend down the line. Who next? Priyanka, husband Robert Vadra or their children? Should Vadra capitulate to duty and destiny — he boasted in an interview that he could win from anywhere — where would we be? Vadra alone is reason to be wary of the legacy going any further. How can a member of a century-old political family not know that Aam Aadmi has been the Congress’s winning slogan? From Nehru to Vadra, it has been a stunning decline in intellectual calibre.

At odds with democracy

The other knight in shining armour is an equally unwholesome prospect. Much has been written about the hollowness of Modi’s development claims. Gujarat’s development is material development and not human development as its dismal statistics on malnutrition, hunger and maternal mortality show. Modi’s supporters haven’t been able to explain why Modi aide Maya Kodnani, who was an MLA and a minister, has been convicted of murder, conspiracy and rioting in the 2002 Naroda Patiya anti-Muslim violence. The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) which investigated the Naroda case sought the death penalty for Kodnani. She incidentally also figured in the list of 63 “accused” — Modi included — named by Zakia Jafri in her omnibus petition seeking punishment for the 2002 pogrom. Yet the same SIT fully closed the Zakia complaint for want of evidence. If Kodnani acted on her own to commit a crime deserving death, a crime the judge described as a “black chapter” in India’s secular-democratic history, then Modi was surely a poor administrator who didn’t know what happened in his backyard and who went on to reward her with the party ticket and ministership.

More than anything else, Modi represents an idea wholly at odds with democracy. The mask is an unnerving, ubiquitous presence at all his rallies. On the podium is Modi and in the audience are the Modi masks, hundreds and thousands of them. The masked men and women wave, scream and stomp their feet to muscular music sung in praise of the State and its leader. Vanthambhyu Gujarat (unstoppable Gujarat) is an anthem sung as much to unstoppable Modi. Modi’s promotional line is: Hoon to Modi No Manas Chu (I’m Modi’s person).

Gujarat might be the Capital of the world considering its ability to produce and supply anything and everything of significance. Singaporeans and Delhiites drink milk from Gujarat. They perhaps do. But that is Verghese Kurien’s Amul milk. And Modi humiliated Kurien publicly.

Finally, what is the mask if not a desire to perpetuate yourself? Is that not a form of dynasty? Bring on the alternatives.

More In: Lead | Opinion

Author has tried to write a balanced article but failed to do so.
One should accept the achievements of Shri Modi along with his alleged
riots involvement.His development work should be as passionately
projected as his alleged misdeeds.

Regarding riots, matter is with court.Till now Gujarat riots are the
most investigated one with SC appointed SIT chief giving clean chit to
Shri Modi.

Regarding Malnutrition issue,Gujarat has been under Modi for only 10
years.With little Common sense anyone can tell it will take some more
time to fix these and other issues.Have Patience results will be
positive as are in other sectors.

Youth of India is fed up with this negative propaganda against
Modi.Main stream Media is loosing it's credibility by being
biased.Social Networking is challenging Main stream media.

from:  Rakesh Bhatt
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 22:51 IST

Let’s be practical about the situation. Country is deteriorating day after the day. There is a dearth of high profile jobs in India now, talented young minds are either being desperate to settle outside or they are fed up with the system. The lack of excitement about India is more a result of the problems of governance the country has recently come under than of doubts about its potential.
It’s a culmination of the system failure and of current policy paralysis. We need someone who is exemplary in decision making, someone who has patience beyond human limit and someone who can excite the society positively for betterment.The Prime minister comparatively should have more grey substance which by all means we can see in
Modi’s talent/administration/leadership. Dynasty family is not going
to go anywhere. They would rule us for next 2 more centuries unless
the pedigree ends by itself.Modi can make it.

from:  Subramanya GT
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 22:47 IST

This is the most biased article i have ever read. The author seems to find an excuse to criticize Modi rather than any objective evaluation. Congress only files the cases to drag it for long and tarnish the image of adversaries. If CBI /NIA fails to prove cases then they should be made accountable by compensating them for defamation. This will act as deterrent for Congress and CBI /NIA. How come investigation agencies does not know whether they have an admissible evidence under law is a big puzzle?!

from:  Surya
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 21:51 IST

Well balance article..Well said..

from:  REHAN
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 12:42 IST

well written article but only the facts regarding Modi were presented. The writer should have also presented the facts about Rahul(The Reluctant monarch) then it would have been easier for the readers to make up their mind about a particular candidate.

from:  Himanshu Sagar
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 12:04 IST

The author has perhaps written a biased view, claiming some emotional
sympathy for the Gandhi family.The author has given a unidimensional
view of Modi,although he is a controversial leader but a much
progressive and strong leader. If we Compare 2002 Ahmedabad to 1984
anti Sikh riots in Delhi. Over 3000 Sikhs were butchered in Delhi
alone, with thousands more in different towns and cities of north
India. The anti-Sikh massacre of 1984 saw Congressmen lead killer-mobs
who gang raped Sikh women, looted and burnt innumerable Sikh homes and
Furthermore numerous Congressmen have been indicted by courts and sent
to jail, not only for their role in the Godhra train massacre but also
in subsequent riots in Ahmedabad and other cities. However, there is
studied silence in the media when Congressmen are indicted for the
violence. But indictment of BJP leaders is gloated over for days on

from:  Shagun
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 10:45 IST

India has lost its values, tolerance etc they say, but the humour sense
also!!!!. Its not a very hard to put satire Ms Subramaniam has put
across, and sadly most of the readers got it all wrong.
Well written piece. Enjoyed reading it.

from:  resmi
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 09:47 IST

(1) Basic question we the readers have to ask is whether we should
exonerate Mr. Modi of his failures in 2002 just because the Congress
and Rajiv Gandhi led government miserably failed to take steps to
effectively control anti-Sikh riots in 1984. No right thinking citizen
would do that. (2) All concerned citizens feel that there is a growing
threat to the concept of India as a nation with different
religious/social cultures and languages. Question is whether a
political party like BJP led by Mr. Modi (or any one else) is capable
of protecting the diversity of India and also ensuring equitable
growth. (3) Mr. Narendra Modi has to prove that he is indeed capable
of burying populist policies of UPA and steer the economy to grow at a
rate of around 7 to 8 %. Mr. Rahul Gandhi may be a novice and one may
write him off. Mr. Narendra Modi’s or BJP’s capability to put back
the economy on growth path or to govern the entire country cannot be
enhanced by criticizing Gandhi/Nehru dynasty.

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 08:16 IST

Many years ago the Hindu had a reputation of being a very reliable, politically unbiased paper. Not any more. This article is in tune with the new policies of the paper which has launched a campaign against Modi and the BJP.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 06:13 IST

Granting that unlimited corruption and shameless attempts at
suppressing any force to challenge the ruling class as THE real
problems, a third alternative like Aam Aadmi should rank first among
the choices.
1) The internal democracy that Rahul spoke about on becoming a
general secretary of INC is yet to sprout, not to talk about roots.

2)The courtesans in the party too have deep vested interests in
keeping their patronizers in the throne.

3) The dynasty has been exercising power without accountability.

4)Change is in the interest of our nation and the need of the hour
when the youth, women and the middle class are poised for reforms.

from:  kaliappan Ranga
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 04:05 IST

India's Parliamentary electoral history is loaded with instances where the voters
have voiced concerns that go beyond just choosing the Prime Minister. People have
used the elections as a platform to reject communal politics, reject imposition of
language, oppose emergency, question neo-liberal policies, demand separate
states and so on. Only the interests of the fascist elements, who want to weaken
the plurality and vibrancy of Indian democracy, would be served by reducing the
exercise to a battle of personalities. The interests of the country would be well
served if the debates around the coming Lok Sabha elections would focus on the
economic policies that has caused enormous hardhips to the masses, the
astronomical levels of corruption, rising violence against women, resurgence of
communal tendencies in the public sphere etc., I hope a responsible newspaper
like The Hindu would contribute towards making such issues the focal points of
the forthcoming election.

from:  Ajith Padmanabhan
Posted on: Feb 25, 2013 at 00:20 IST

This is clearly a pro-congress or as i put it Anti- Modi article. 2002 riots were explicitly condemned but 1984 riots were nowhere mentioned. It was not mentioned that only Mr. Modi has been able to generate surplus electricity. The state's power requirement is around 12400 MW and the state generates 20,000 MW electricity which is still a dream even for Delhi. Why was it not mentioned that "Youth democratic congress" is a youth congress because the youth who stand for elections are the chosen kins of the congress members.

from:  kanika
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 23:07 IST

Despite our long prevailing heterodox nature, we Indians can’t disagree with the monotone that inhibits development. The monarchy governance in India could not experience significant developments, albeit has not ruined it completely in years. We have to stop giving chances to the same or maybe what we need is a change. One can never agree to the mask theory explained above. We all know we have been through the worst, what are we afraid of? A change in leadership style is quite necessary considering the fact that in our country nobody listens to anybody. And as for the misery that took place in Gujarat, sometimes a strong leader has to rise above managing situations and rather pass justice to keep things in order in long run. I mean see now everybody is happy in the state, we are brothers indeed.

from:  kumar prasenjeet
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 22:31 IST

Three things need to be considered for the next leader: not dynasty, not mask.
First, capability to be a leader: Dr.MMS has a clean record but his leadership skills
leaves lot to be desired, many considered him a facade of Ms. Gandhi. Neither has Mr.
Gandhi so far demonstrated any leadership skills other than being a poster boy. In this
case, Mr. Modi scores more than his competitors. Currently, strong and effective
leadership is required to counter chinese-pakistani designs and lead the country in a
situation of global crisis.
Second, is ideologies: Mr. Modi is accused of hindutva, but UPA is no different. If Mr.
Modi is assumed to play 'Majority' communalism, UPA is playing the minority politics.
We need a person who is totally secular. Neither Rahul nor Modi scores here. Mr.
Kerijiwal may be called a fence sitter
Third, strong team: UPA has more corrupt than BJP but BJP has people like Mr. Singha
who are great in defence & security related issues, which we need now...!!!

from:  Bharat
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 22:04 IST

Vidya and her tribe of Modi bashers would continue to highlight the virtue of dynasty rule
versus a democratically elected leader. Only qualification of surname should be compared to
a person come up from humble background at the grass root level without any god father in
the party which is what educated middle class is looking for in 2014.

from:  MVJRao
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 21:52 IST

As mentioned by someone, there is always a mention of 1984 when there is
a mention of 2002. Congress had 1984 and BJP had 2002. Ater 1984
Congress did not repeat that where as BJP kept on reminding everyone
about 1984 till they themselves did the same in 2002. SO they both have
tied the score. I agree with looking for an alternative.

from:  bzach
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 17:54 IST

India can let a fascist Modi become PM at its own peril. But what can
facilitate this is the utterly corrupt Congress (not to say that BJP is
less corrupt)and its hollow and morally bankrupt leadership, Rajiv

from:  kalan
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 14:44 IST

I personally feel both candidates are not suitable- RG and Modi. It does
not say to favour or vote RG as we have seen that Gandhi have not
accepted PM post-- should not be equated to sacrifice but as been aware
of not being accepted due to Pawar of NCP rant. It may happen that
family members may not be in power for long time to come.
Both political parties have good as well bad characters but it will
depend on which way both decide to manifest in form of leadership to
take country to peaceful and sustainable path of economy recovery. Yes
we as nation have to think for third alternative and can not be carried
away by emotion of any sort.
We demand for clean governance and government but are we responsible
in our voting? or we have different yardstick base on political
preferences. for example 30% elected candidates have criminal charges in
recent concluded Gujarat election. How does it sound? Do not we have to
take responsibility and be prudent in matter of voting?

from:  prashant
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 14:36 IST

I am amazed that whenever somebody critisises Modi there is always a gang of people which bring up the 1984 Sikh Riots,or who rubbishes the article as written by a congress stooge.
Modi has the responsibility over his administrations actions in the 2002 riots, independent of what happened in 1984 and equally justice should be done in both cases. One shouldn't be used as a justification for the other. We must always remember our grave mistakes, otherwise we will just cyclically encounter the same problem again and again.
We must discourage putting too much of credit for the success or failure of a government on one man alone. It is almost never the truth as history tells. Even Vajpayee governed well by surrounding himself with very knowledgeable people like Yashwant Sinha, Brijesh Mishra, Arun Shorie etc. and not just hindutva leaders.
I would say Yashwant Sinha is the only capable and wise leader in the BJP front now. He only had the courage to oppose the relection of Gadkari.

from:  Girish
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 12:38 IST

We do require an alternative but the point I want to emphasize here is the way the article has been written. I am astonished at the way this author does not even make a passing mention of the 1984 riots. In all the articles thrashing Modi for the 2002 riots, 1984 does not find a mention. What does this mean for the reader? That killing Sikhs is not communal, or Sikhs are not a minority; or we should forget 84 and keep alive 2002; or in spite of 84, Congress is secular, whereas Modi is an epitome of communalism?!Or Big tree falls; speech is an evocation of secularism and not an incitement to killings! I am bewildered!

from:  Akshaya Kumar
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 10:42 IST

Dynasty is the antithesis of democracy and it has no respectable place in any mature democracy. There has to be rules to stop such damaging persuasions and if there are no such rules, the thinking people should take it upon themselves and remove such negative tendencies in a maturing democracy such as in India. There is severe law and order and corruption issues as well as stymied growth potentials due to ill thought out policies thus far. Infrastructure development is a farce and poverty abatement is still only in the files! It is time the people decides a true alternative and Modi with the proven track record can be that chosen one to regenerate Indian economy and administer law and order without fear or favor! Time to think outside the box!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 09:58 IST

Alternative is Mr Arvind Kejriwal, clean record, not a right winger and definitely does not belong to any dynasty. India, open your eyes..

from:  suneel
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 01:36 IST

As long as a Modi-Rahul comparison does not bring in the issue of Sikh riots and the Dynasty's culpability in the same, the author exposes herself to the allegation of not being even-handed. Further, if the choice is presented as one between a bumbling, reluctant dynasty and man culpable in mass-murders, it is pretty obvious which alternative she is leaning towards, though ostensibly, she finds both choices equally distasteful. I guess it is the pressure of (middle class) public opinion which has moved decisively in favor of Modi and sharply against the Dynasty which is driving liberal authors to write more balanced articles as against the trend even a couple of years back when a frontal attack against Modi was still acceptable.

from:  sai
Posted on: Feb 24, 2013 at 00:46 IST

Untill one read your above article,one had thought that India is a democracy belonging to all the citizens of this country and not an ancestral property of Nehru's children,grandchidren,great grandchidren and so on. One also had earlier thought that for anyone to become the Prime Minister of the country that person should have a certain degree of hand-on experience in governance and wide acceptance in the country. Thank you for providing a different perspective on the matter!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 22:26 IST

One is not interested in becoming PM and the other wants to become PM at any cost. Its shocking that in a country with greater than 100 crore population, we can't find an apt candidate for the stewardship of this country.

from:  ranjithp
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 21:03 IST

You have simply described the achievments of Modi as material and shown Rahul as the savior of the country You have already expressed ur desires to see Rahul as PM and openly bashed Modi but Modi has made a habit of listening criticism from likes of u and Katju and his developement workin Gujrat praised all over the World and whether u like or not he will be the next PM .

from:  Prateek Sinha
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 20:43 IST

We vote our governments into place. We get the governments we deserve. We deserve the governments we get. Good sense has a way of not getting enough votes the way the canny politician does.So, come 2014, monarch or mask will matter little. The cannier of the two (groups) will cash in. Is anyone even bothering to think that the issues (like monarch vs mask) that the intellectuals discuss and debate are so far removed from the ones that matter to the vast majority of Indian voters. So far removed from the rationale the average voter uses to decide his vote. The average mango man outvotes the intellectual by a factor of I guess 20:1 or more. Then you have the regional parties. Take TN for example - which among monarch or mask has even a snowflake's chance in hell in this state.

from:  Rajeev Iyer
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 20:08 IST

My gut-feel is that Congress and BJP may throw surprises by projecting from Chidambaram, Khurshid, Advani and Swaraj. Why take responsibility and get exposed? They are no longer the Nehrus to donate family property (Anand Bhavan in Allahabad)to the nation anymore. They are buying property at throw away prices instead (thanks to Haryana Govt). Tears may be genuine but they are being used to satiate greed. If Modi indeed is projected and elected, which many desire, we will have a functional PM after a decade. Columnists though would support anyone but Modi, even a popular filmstar or scam tainted person from their state will suit them. What a myopic view! Do leaders from certain regions not qualify for national leadership?

from:  sharma
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 20:01 IST

This is an ingenious article wherein the author very cleverly hides the shortcomings of the Gandhi scion by invoking the legacy of the Gandhi family and try to trick Indians emotionally by thinking that the king-in-waiting; will eventually deliver if given a chance. While she has been quite direct in bashing Modi. It is shameful that even after so many years the Congress through it's well-wishers has to resort to an emotional appeal to win in the next election. But then wait having failed on economic and social fronts and putting India in the precarious condition it is today what else is left but to invoke the legacy?

from:  Jay
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 19:43 IST

Yawn...another Modi-bashing article! And we, the people of India, have to form objective opinions from media propaganda.

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 19:34 IST

The quandary of the Indian electorate is obviously visible today.Choosing a candidate just because his family has served the country for about a century now is not a prudent decision.We have to select the leader not favour the dynasty politics and he has not shown his political prowess well before us .Just visiting few villagers every couple of months and showing concern for them and then back to square one.Today , Mr. Gandhi has suddenly started taking part in active politics at the time when general elections are approaching simply expresses his motives.
And the other side of the coin is the growth loving (not development)authoritarian leader who has already proved his communal traits in the past.One decade has just passed since the pogrom , this shouldn't imply that his mindset has changed.The gross imbalances in the human development indicators well explains his governance model.
So,both sides of this coin seems unattractive.Let's hope a better alternative surfaces for us.

from:  mohit kumar
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 18:15 IST

A well written article, although rather soft on the Congress and its heir apparent. A choice, inevitably, will be made and the consequences, whatever they may be, lived through. If i'm being truly cynical, I'd say Modi's ascension seems pretty much inevitable. I say this for the single reason that as a nation, we have a proclivity to bury the hatchet and forget the brutalities committed on our own people. Also, the author could have talked about other potential contenders from within the BJP (Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Nitish Kumar) instead of falling for the oft repeated RG vs. Modi story. Putting aside the secular- non secular divide, I believe a deserving person who can at least understand and embody the idea of India as the makers of the Constitution did, is the right choice. And we all know, none of Rahul Gandhi or Modi is that person. By far.

from:  Gaurav
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 17:37 IST

Rahul Gandhi is least qualified to be PM; he is unaware of real living conditions of Indians and is glorified due to dynastic quality; MUST stop this trend for sure; as for Modi, yes, he has done much for his own State but needs more experience to handle the whole country; why can't BJP project Sushma Swaraj or OTHER suitable leaders; Modi can join the Cabinet learn more about INDIAN states and then assume or aspire for the PM post !

from:  Radhik Hairam
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 15:54 IST

The author compares a green horn with a veteran and comes to the conclusion(an in-explicit one, but however implied in the two pieces of the article) that Rahul is a better choice than Modi!. The fact that Rahul is a reluctant monarch doesn't make him more suitable. What India needs is PM who has experience in administration of the state apparatus and no where anyone who is hoisted to the position by dint of lineage or genealogy.
The author would do well not to be biased in favor of a candidate whose leadership abilities are yet to be proven. Why should India be held hostage to the leadership of a family or those hoisted on the nation by the same family? It is time to accept change and install a vibrant, performance driven team at the center.

from:  Shivaram Nayak
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 15:13 IST

Dynasty reluctant to assume power...O Really... I wonder who is the most power full personality in India today. It's true that dynasty drama and arranged chest beating workers can not fool public as such but then media plays a role to do away with drama and project the possible leader.
Totally unfair comparison.Modi is a self made person. six crore Gujrati's thought can not be very different from the 100 crore plus Indians. If people have chosen him against all propaganda for three consecutive term, No media propaganda can take away his credit.

On the other hand there is one party and media made leader who is yet to prove his personal ability. Both leaders(is leader a right word) can not and should not be compared.

from:  Gopal Yadav
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 14:53 IST

There is a big difference between neutrality and balancing acts. Actually invisible masks are more harmful than the visible ones. Even after 60 years of pro-people policies the majority of Indians are still in poverty, It seems the policy of divide and rule was masked as pro-people policies so that poor and ignorant people can be milked for their votes. Maya Kodnani was a serious issue and Modi's resignation was due for that before the elections. But i am amazed why the congress, media and congress' factotums scuttled the issue during and before the elections, maybe they have reasons . Modi was resposible for Maya Kodnani and in the same way Manmohan singh and Sonia Gandhi is responsible for CWG games disaster and cancellation of 122 2G licenses.
And finally don't abuse Gujaratis and Indians by saying who having cast his States population of six crore; in his own image, wants to do the same thing to all Indians alive.

from:  Praveen Nair
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 13:24 IST

It is actually not a hard choice. Rahul's family represents a deep-seated desire in many Indians for an unquestionable theme (family roots) that can bind a clutch of largely unrelated people across the country. Rahul personally promotes transparency, matured thinking and all-round development. He is trying to connect the poorest to the richest, as the citizens of a nation should. Many people join him for these ideals. Whether he succeeds in developing the nation or not, is not sure. But he surely binds several people in a common theme.

Modi, represents the brute capitalist ideology: Money absolves all means used to gain it. Further, he has shrewd mind to make a tall house of cards and project himself as an answer to India's woes. The India he refers to is a very thin slice of the population.

Irrespective, we must give up this notion that a PM can change the country. Sit with the PM and you'll know his frustrations run deeper than a rickshaw puller, who can at least get afternoon nap!

from:  Anand
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 11:50 IST

This opinion peice reads liken the Hindu editorial once a fortnight with the hidden title 'it's time for Modi Bashing'. Congress needs a Gandhi name under the Nehru lineage to survive. The simple reason is they hold the purse strings of the party. No one inside or outside the party know the war chest the party has got except the family. Indira Gandhi made sure it stays that way after forming Congress(I). Added to that the subservient nature of the Congress second rung leadership, rank and file.
Rahul like his parents is a 'reluctant leader'. The reluctancy fools no one. The well organised chest beatings for him to take over the top jobs again fools none.
Modi on the other hand came up the ranks and fought and won elections on the basis of his image, performance and ability to carry the party with him. Rahul is yet to win a Municipal election on his steam. Rahul is not interested in the job while Modi wants the job.

from:  Mani Sandilya
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 11:32 IST

Totally biased .....
I thoght I am living in Democratic country. But now Writer has clarified
me on this topic that you are completely wrong . We are living in a
country (which some say is biggest democratic country in world) which is
ruled by great dynastry.

from:  vikash kumar
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 11:31 IST

There is no harm bringing on the alternatives rulers and new faces as
pointed by Vidya provided the choice of the voter is free, fair,
transparent and not fixed to one brand and dynasty. Presentation of
Modi/Rahul Gandhi as a single good governance alternate in response to
the fear of indiscipline in the market forces is a clear match fixing
by rulers and promoters. We must not forget that the market and
business use religion only as an excuse.Same Modi in 2001 was zero
after Bhuj earthquake 6 months before Gujrat pogrom and RSS wanted him
out Business lobby is more hidden choice less deciding factor to
display `Modi` and `Rahul Gandhi` as a `successful tool` in the voters
shop window.

from:  Rakesh Manchanda
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 11:11 IST

Although this kind of debate is entertaining and interesting but it
is basiclly harmful to the multi-party democracy which this "More
than a Billion People" democracy allows to grow and participate.
I think, one should resist from such one-dimensional and lop sided
debates where the roles and aspirations of regional powers are not
even being considered.
At the larger scale especially in the Lok Sabha elections it has been
observed that people are having different priorities and in larger
states clear majorities to any one party is a rare dream. So its
anybody's guess as of now.
Modi's power do germinate from an extremely muscular personality and
at the core is basically at contradiction with the kind of skill set
required for a country with diversity of faith, population, practices
and resources.
Gandhi has also shown restrain in amount more than required in
assuming power and it would have been wonderful if he decides to take
challenging assignments like Rural Development/Environment

from:  Mohd Afzal
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 11:02 IST

The lack of a credible third alternative aggravates the sense of despondency about the political choices of our times. If only it were possible for Mr. Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party to gather in its fold men and women of unimpeachable integrity and outstanding leadership skills to boldly contest the rising and despairing tide of the current options, then, hopefully, it might go on to become the deservedly turning point in the history of our nation. Hope springs eternal...

from:  Sridhar S
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 10:27 IST

The author was biased and written in favor of Mr Rahul Gandhi
but Congress party. Although he depicts entire story of Gandhi family
but hide the actual loop holes made by their party. A nation true leader
has not been judged by looks, integrity, credibility, or by honesty, if
it is so then nobody would be get fair chance ahead of Mr Manmohan
Singh, but as whole party. Obligation towards the “nation” and towards
the “aam admi” is not only with PM but also with entire government.
Let’s not go by face value but by clean administration.

from:  Prasannajeet Mohanty
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 09:43 IST

Kudos to Vidya for excellent article. It has been a long time one has
pinched the dynasty politics in the name of democracy. Thousands of
people cry for the long ruling family because they assume Mahatma's
shadow on everyone related to it. But how many of them proved their
worthiness to reign ? Handing over it just on gut feeling may have
proven justified but nothing can beat the tag " OK TESTED".

Article just hinted that out of 1.20 Billion many are much more
competent than so called candidates but just because they don't belong
any ideology or clan only put their efforts for somebody else.

The Prince Vs The Knight would be a great battle to participate
provided the purpose are the citizens within the castle called
Republic of India.

from:  Dhiren
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 08:09 IST

Ms Subraminaym, sure all of us will continue looking for better alternatives until the elections
happen. However, please stop this underhand paens to the Nehru descendants, it is purely a
commercial reason for them to cling to the power. Congress has proven to be a curse for this
nation, drunk with power and comfortable in the thought that it has no credible alternative.
We are all waiting for someone who can pull us out of this despair and if such option does
not arrives I am willing to pick the best among the worst, and that Is where Modi comes as
an alternative.

from:  Sumit Vijayan
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 08:00 IST

Very good narrative of the dismal state of potentials for the top post. Both, as ramachandra guha said should be shown the exit doors. Saddam hussein was hanged in international court of justice for heading the government which orchestrated the killing of 700 kurds, and mr modi for PM? Our record in human rights is already dismal (one of the few countries not to have ratified the UN huma rights accord), mr modi election as PM will only make matters worse for india in the international stage. It is also worthy to note ms kondani was given the ministry of women and child development 5 years after abetting heinous crimes against women.

from:  Al ARAFAT Sherfuddeen
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 06:56 IST

Kudos to author for a very balanced and incisive article!!Regarding her call for alternatives....where do we get this alternative?I don't think of any other alternative in near future

Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 06:51 IST

We dont have real democracy. Real democracy is where the person has to be elected by all party members. And those members will elect them on the work they have done and not by blood. Though in BJP it says other ways but still in BJP also there is no transparent elections.

from:  Sandip
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 05:34 IST

Given the available choices I will vote for Modi. At least the man is
decisive with top notch administration skills, exactly what India needs
at this hour floundering economy, rampant corruption and rudderless
leadership at the center.

from:  Suvojit Dutta
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 03:07 IST

After being fully agreed with your opinion, I would request you to write down "alternatives" in your next article. I am waiting for that to happen.

from:  saurabh
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 02:01 IST

thought provoking article for readers

from:  praveen b h
Posted on: Feb 23, 2013 at 01:49 IST
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