As the editorial, “A leader steps forward” (Jan. 20) pointed out, Rahul Gandhi was at his combative best when making his spirited speech at the Talkatora stadium. What’s more, he is very likely to have achieved his purpose of rejuvenating Congress cadres and supporters across the country; the event was covered extensively by the media. However, this may all be too little too late for the party. Despite its pan-Indian presence, the Congress seems ill-equipped to match up to the twin political challenge posed by a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party and an aggressive AAP. Still, if Mr. Gandhi’s speech is an indication of the revitalisation of the Grand Old Party, which has survived many crises in its chequered history, one simply cannot write it off.
Mr. Gandhi’s speech was found wanting on a few counts. He mentioned the achievements of his party, but he himself stands as an inexperienced administrator and, given his failed role as the party’s chief campaigner in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, a poor leader. Secondly, it is remarkable that he was not declared the party’s prime ministerial candidate considering today’s political scene — Congress workers are sorely in need of the focus that a young, new leader can provide. Thirdly, he seemed to forget the plethora of scams under UPA rule and displayed little vision to combat the prevailing corruption.
Mr. Gandhi’s statement that democracy cannot be run on the diktat of one person reeks of hypocrisy. His own party is arguably being run almost exclusively by his mother Sonia Gandhi and himself. The moment Mr. Gandhi decreed that the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders be increased from nine to 12, the Petroleum Minister, who had last month claimed it was impossible, appeared to meekly submit.
The AICC meeting and the decision not to project Mr. Gandhi as the Congress’s prime ministerial candidate, were deliberate. The party has probably figured out that it cannot win with Mr. Gandhi as its leader and is better advised to announce its candidate if and when it wins. Till then, the party will project him as “caretaker Rahul”. In the unlikely event that the party wins, Mr. Gandhi will be rewarded with the PMO. And if it loses, the blame will be laid on the faulty administration of Manmohan Singh.
Deepjot Singh Thukral,