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Rudderless Congress still looks up to missing-in-action Rahul Gandhi

Rashi Mathur

Updated: February 26, 2015, 3:54 PM IST
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When Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the voters that their "acche din" is about to start, he certainly did not count the Congress in.

Bad days for Congress started with the massive electoral rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. If the successive debacle in the elections were just not enough, the grand old party is yet again facing the dilemma of an identity crisis.

In a surprise move, Rahul Gandhi, the face of the Congress and soon-to-be President of the party, went on an 'official leave' from Monday. Interestingly, he went on leave right on the day when the all-important Budget session of Parliament began.

Like always, from the top of the pyramid to the bottom, all leaders are busy defending Rahul's leave claiming that he needs time to introspect. He needs to do 'chintan', as is being claimed, before the All India Congress Committee meets in Bengaluru where he is likely to be named the party's president.

Regardless of whether he needs time to think or not, the party certainly needs to analyse if it really wants him as the leader. A 'leader' who chooses to disappear in the Budget session, especially at a time when one more loss can put the party into near oblivion is surely the last thing that any Congress leader would wish for.

An ongoing Parliament session is the perfect time for opposition parties to throw barbs at the ruling party to bring them in the dock. But what is interesting is that at such a time, the Congress party is putting out all its energy in finding answers to questions over Rahul's absence.

The steering of the ship which has been held by the Gandhi family for over decades, today stands without a captain. The dynasty politics that the party indulges in, has almost given Rahul the birthright to become the Congress President.

He has never been able to prove his worth for the post. On the contrary on multiple occasions, he has proved why he is not suited to lead the party.

Even though it is mostly muted, the dissent within the party has started to echo like a bell in an empty hall. Several party leaders have in sober as well as in clear words, raised questions about a leadership crisis but to no avail. Any and every rebelling voice in the party has been silenced with either a disciplinary action or the member is forced to issue a clarification which is in line with the party's 'ideology'.

There have been several cases when suggestions of veteran leaders are thrown out of the box and not even pondered upon by Rahul's 'team'. The problem is not that the suggestions of the old guard are not implemented, with changing times, the style of functioning should change as well. The real problem comes when the changes fail repeatedly and nothing is done to rectify the mistakes.

Politics involves taking jibes at each other to bring the other down. But its rivals need not indulge in such acts as Rahul seems to be fully capable of doing that himself.

Instead of being an inspiring leader, he is a living example of what must not be done by an able leader.

Time and again, chances have been given to the Congress 'yuvraj' to prove his might, but what has he done? Each and every time, he has simply shied away from taking the responsibilities when the party needed him the most as a captain to steer the ship on to the right path.

While people hear other politicians and lap up their comments, statements and innovative, even if unachievable ideas, Rahul's speeches are peppered with the unheard. Sample this - Jupiter's escape velocity. Nearly all of his speeches are trolled across the social media.

His latest 'missing from Parliament' act also drew many laughable comments like 'school khulte hi chutti par jane ke liye gazab dussahas chahiye' (it takes a lot of guts to bunk school right on the day when it reopens).

While it may be hilarious, it shows the severe crisis the Congress is forced to deal with.

His speeches do not have a connect with people nor does his style. In fact, the 2014 Lok Sabha election was a mirror of this where he managed to scrape through in the Congress bastion Amethi, a seat which has always belonged to the Gandhis.

Let alone connecting with the common man, there have been numerous cases where veteran Congress leaders have complained how they cannot get through to Rahul even in times of urgency. If the leader is not reachable to the party workers, how can he possibly reach out to the masses? Rahul needs to realise that merely eating at a farmer's house can give him a good photo opportunity but cannot be good enough to establish him as an efficient political leader.

The party is not short of efficient leaders, but it is the high command in Delhi which fails them on every occasion. Despite the party's severe drubbing, some Congress leaders have asserted that Sonia Gandhi should step down and Rahul should take charge. If he proves his worth, it will be a much needed breather for the party, but if he doesn't, it could well be a blessing in disguise for the others who are much more capable of holding fort. This one decision could be the decider of whether the dynasty rule within the party is here to stay or if it is the final nail in coffin.
First Published: February 26, 2015, 3:54 PM IST

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