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Rahul is the only card the Congress has up it's sleeve in a very adverse climate: Neerja Chowdhury

Updated: January 21, 2013, 5:10 PM IST
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Rahul is the only card the Congress has up it's sleeve in a very adverse climate: Neerja Chowdhury
Can Rahul Gandhi turn the tide for the Congress before the 2014 polls?

Can Rahul Gandhi turn the tide for the Congress before the 2014 polls? Political analyst and senior journalist Neerja Chowdhury joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. Can Rahul match Modi with good track record of development, support from urban middle class and youth? Asked by: Raghav

A. That is the million dollar question, if it becomes a Rahul vs Modi battle which, willy nilly, it is all set to become.

Q. What credentials do you think Rahul ji has to count on him for the PM post or to turn the tide for congress? Asked by: Jaipal

A. Rahul is the only card the Congress has up it's sleeve in a very adverse climate and he must be given credit for deciding to become number two in the party, when odds are stacked sop heavily against the party.

Q. I don't think because of Rahul but because there is not a viable alternative to govt. at present and opposition doesn't seem to be taking advantage? Your views? Asked by: Gaurav

A. Yesterday one saw a glimmer of a new leader being born, a Rahul Gandhi who was not in evidence in the last 8 years, ready to lead his party from the front. It is true that no clear alternative is emerging to the Congress at the moment. But then it is still a fluid situation, and one that is evolving.

Q. From past years, the projects handled by Rahul (Bihar, Guj, UP, Punjab) all went flat. He never visited MP, TN, Karnataka. what is the creditability and options for Rahul? Asked by: aman

A. The significance of what happened in Jaipur was the beginning of a transition of power in the Congress party which will go beyond 2014. Rahul Gandhi, who has said he is now going to be there to lead it, will have to revive his party in many states, and that is no easy task. We will have to wait and see who he chooses as his team and what strategy he puts into place particularly for winning in the 9 states which are going to the polls and in some of them, like Karnataka, the Congress has a winning chance.

Q. Can Rahul match Modi in terms of administrative capabilities, personal charisma. Asked by: Raghav

A. Rahul has the advantage of an all India image, with the Congress being a pan India party, something the BJP is not. He also has the advantage of being young, and he plans to young team with him which may have an appeal for aspirational India, though he is not starting on a clean slate and will have to contend with a negative image the Congress has acquired. He has the advantage of having his party totally behind him. Modi on the other hand is one of the many BJP leaders aspiring to the top job. He has proved himself in Gujarat though he has to click in the rest of India. Both will target urban middle class, especially the youth. Modi is seen as a tough leader and people want delivery. Neither have corruption charges against them, but they will have to answer questions about corruption in their respective parties.

Q. It seems unlikely that the UPA will lose power in 2014 not because of anything else but BJP doesn't seem to incash the anti-congress feeling in the country. do you agree? I also feel that the Congress will win between 160-180 seats and BJP will run in neck-to neck. Your views please! Asked by: Gaurav

A. The Congress would like to believe that it is coming to power again in 2014 but that is difficult to say and will depend on a lot of imponderables. It will depend on how a post-Jaipur Rahul moves, his new team, his strategy, and how he counters the negativity about the Congress. It will also depend on what happens on the other side, whether it projects Modi and whether Modi gets response from Hindu, urban, middle class in states outside Gujarat.

Q. I think their is honesty in his speech and he will give his best if elected. why not Rahul if he is capable and sincere. Asked by: vasanthi

A. I agree, Rahul Gandhi seemed to be sincere in what he was saying at Jaipur and because he spoke from his heart and spoke candidly, holding a mirror to his party, and laying down a vision of what it could do, he had such an emotional response from otherwise hardened Congressmen and women. Having said that, it is not going to be easy to translate his vision into a reality, given entrenched interests. But he should be given the chance and the time to do so.

Q. Rahul's efforts will not get the Congress what it needs in 2014.All the wrongs can not be washed away just by putting up a new face. Your views? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. I agree the sins of the Congress cannot be washed away by putting up a new face. But a new, well meaning and a determined leader is a starting point.

Q. Is any NSUI guys can be the president of congress? Asked by: sanjay jha, advocate, HC ranchi

A. Good question to ask, and I hope that will be possible.

Q. I tend to disagree with your view that Rahul Gandhi has an advantage over Narendra Modi. Can you name one state where Congress will win more seats than the BJP in a direct contest in 2014? Asked by: Manish Sharma

A. I did not say that Rahul has an advantage over Modi. I gave the pluses and minuses of both, but it is early days to say anything because we don't know how people will respond to both in the new and emerging situation.

Q. Is Rahul a good administrator? does he has knowledge and skills to run a giant corporate and Sector called India as a CEO? Or will he be dependent only on suggestions and advice of people surrounding him? Asked by: pc

A. We know nothing about Rahul's administrative qualities so far. Nor has he been declared as a Prime Ministerial candidate of the Congress- not yet. So far he is billed to lead his party's election campaign. But a leader must have a vision for the future, where he wants to take his party or the country. As for other expertise he can get it, The most important quality is being clear about the direction in which he wants to move, and the efficacy of the instrumentality through which he will move.

Q. Can a person, who has never been a head of a local municipality be able to lead a nation? Asked by: Abhijeet

A. There are many good administrators but hey may not necessarily make good leaders. A leader can get good administrators and put them in the right places. A leader is someone with a vision who can connect with people and earn their respect.

Q. You are saying, we should give Rahul a chance, why not Modi who is proven to be better than Rahul? India needs people who delivers not who can talk emotionally Asked by: Raghav

A. I am not saying give one leader a chance, the BJP may well give Modi a chance on the other side, and let the democratic process determine who should rule.

Q. Congress hoping on Rahul who has a track record of dismal failure.What is his new mantra in 2014? Asked by: P T Srinivasa

A. We all want to know what is going to be the grand theme and strategy of the Congress under Rahul for 2014. That is not yet clear.

Q. Do you don't think Rahul Gandhi yesterday speech was good but still not only but also all UPA members need a lot of work to change the current unstable situation of India Asked by: Ankit ranga

A. Yes I agree that the Congress and the UPA need to shape up. I feel the Congress has forgotten how to work hard and work among the people. It is this that Rahul Gandhi will have to address.

Q. In most of surveys conducted by national media, Modi is preferred over Rahul. Why do you think Rahul has all India image. Today's youth doesn't identifies with him. Asked by: Raghav

A. Rahul has an all India image because of his family history of the last 100 years and also because the Congress is a pan India party.

Q. Ma'am , Is it prudent to write him off as soon as he has just been elevated to a higher position of power?..Social media has been filled with articles both by journos and others alike in running him down?..earlier everyone journalist was so keen in asking him and other Congress leaders as to why he is not being given a higher position or being projected as the future PM?..what has suddenly changed their opinion to that he is bound to fail..That it spells doomsday for the Congress in 2014..your views on this please.. Asked by: JK

A. We have a tendency to run down people. I would be for giving Rahul Gandhi time to show what he plans to do,now that he has formally accepted the responsibility to lead his party and did manage to enthuse his party men and women at Jaipur.

Q. Rahul is having tough time campaigning and defending congress anti-people policies for last nearly a decade so can overnight miracles happen from him at this stage. Asked by: Manav

A. I agree miracles are not possible overnight,but a new beginning is possible and let us wait to see what Rahul puts into place.

Q. I do not think 2014 Polls would be dominated by a single inconsequential individual like Rahul Gandhi. It would predominantly a hung parliament with the Regional Parties ruling the roost. What is your say? Asked by: Karthik

A. I also think that it will be a hung Parliament in 2014, and regional parties will play an important role. But if it becomes a Rahul vs Modi battle, we may be moving towards a two coalition scenario, rather than a Third front type of situation.

First Published: January 21, 2013, 5:10 PM IST
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