Rahul Gandhi comes across as a sincere and earnest man who wants to do good for the country but who is, however, short on specifics and high on amorphous ideals such as “empowerment” (“Rahul’s ‘interview of the year’ will have disappointed supporters”, Jan. 28). At one point during the interview with Times Now, he implied that he did not “sense” that the price situation was grave until women from Kerala told him so. His economic ideas are limited to “setting up manufacturing hubs”. Asked if the Congress was considering an alliance with Lalu Prasad, he desperately said “these decisions are made by senior leaders”, forgetting that the party vice-president is among the most senior of leaders. He readily blames the system when it suits his strategy of marketing himself as the “anomaly” within a corrupt government. He seems to seek to avoid topics that carry the urgency of the present and find resonance on the street. It was almost a farce to watch the, arguably, least-understood politician in India being grilled by a man who styles himself as the most astute and feared inquisitor on Indian television.
K.S. Padmanabha, Secunderabad
Mr. Gandhi’s interview would have devastated, let alone disappointed, his supporters. If Mr. Gandhi remains in the Congress’s driver’s seat and goes on to become the Prime Minister of the country, India’s voters will have committed suicide through ballot. Those who were resting their hopes on Mr. Gandhi to check Narendra Modi’s rise had better begin wishing for a third front. India can just about afford Rahul’s presence as a minister in the government, but certainly not as Prime Minister.
Rajiv Thind, Christchurch, New Zealand
Mr. Gandhi makes no bones about his dislike for the political system and seeks to portray himself as a “serious politician” who aspires to work from outside the establishment. However, his stance on key issues is no different from that of his party. The contrived distinction he made between the 2002 Gujarat riots and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots left many shell-shocked. He was unable to clearly answer the question why, despite the clean chit given to Narendra Modi, he persisted with his allegation that Mr. Modi had “abetted and pushed the riots”. The Congress vice-president lacks what it takes to be a successful governing official: communication skills, clarity of thought and articulation, and the ability to lead the nation.
Prabhu Raj, Chennai
The interview called to mind a hunter constantly striving to circle a prey that keeps giving it the slip. Mr. Gandhi would not be confined by the interviewer’s “specific superficialities” and sought to talk about matters of greater consequence. We, as consumers of the media, must examine the tendency in ourselves to focus on the persona of a politician and ignore the ideologies he stands for. After all, Mr. Gandhi is a man who, in spite of being part of a dynasty himself, is willing to denounce dynastic politics and suffers much mudslinging for it.
Why do we not view his refusal to criticise Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi as a sign of his graciousness? His fixation on women’s empowerment has been ridiculed on social media, but is it not the most relevant issue of our times? And does it not tie in with the questions asked of the Gujarat Chief Minister, who is accused of infringing on the freedom of women through state-sponsored snooping? It appears that Mr. Gandhi’s critics comprehend only crass politicisation and lack an ear for subtlety. I am no fan of Mr. Gandhi myself. I only observe that we must be assess him fairly enough.
Shanti Elangovan, Chennai
Mr. Gandhi is stuck in the past. He is unable to shrug off the memory of the two family tragedies he witnessed as a child. He expects to endear himself to the public by making them think he too is helpless in the midst of a corrupt system.
But as a member of his audience, I feel he is unsure of how to bring about the change he professes and would be happy to run the show from someone else’s shoulder. His contention that he is an outsider in his own party is clearly disingenuous as he, by his own admission, advises the Prime Minister himself on key issues. His pro-aam aadmi talk sounded hollow and farcical. He is confused on certain issues to the point of being visibly stumped by particularly sharp questions.
V. Sriharsha, New Delhi
Unable to withstand the probing questions in his first-ever formal interview, Mr. Gandhi unwittingly divulged that two or three Congressmen were responsible for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Though he scrambled to qualify the admission with some banal story of his party’s amicability with Sikhs, the statement is sure to create a furore among the community. His inadequate defence of his party’s accusations against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate over the Gujarat riots will only have served to strengthen the BJP’s image. He was persistently evasive in his replies, and has only added fuel to the fire of the Congress’s decline.
Nellai Thirumalairajan, Chennai