Finally, media and political world has found Rahul Gandhi after 57 days of unexplained sabbatical. All eye were searching for their pre-proclaimed leader, the Simba of Congress had disappeared right before the budget session 2014-15 began.
Image Source : Indiatimes.Com
The leadership qualities of Rahul are in question after his sudden disappearance when the party needed his immediate support. No one knew where he was except his mother, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. In no time, the issue snowballed into a national affair.
Rahul’s arrival isn’t so pleasant for Congress in many aspects. As a well known fact, he was almost anointed as the next Congress chief, succeeding his mother. However, irked senior leaders questioned this decision that Sonia Gandhi seemed to have taken without other party leaders’ consent. For now, the anointment is delayed until September,and the Congress stands divided owing to Rahul’s candidature as the party chief.Reasons listed below hint at Rahul Gandhi’sincapability to sit at the helm of Congress.
Poor performance record
An embarrassing defeat in general elections under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership as the vice-president and a campaigner for the part weighs heavy on his record. In 2014, India Today had ranked him at the bottom in the list of best and worst MPs. His attendance in the Lok Sabha stood at only 42.61 per cent.
He could spend only 53 per cent of the MPLADS funds, which clearly shows he couldn’t figure out where to spend it. In Amethi constituency, Rahul managed to get a perception rating of 5.8 on the scale of 10.
Leadership qualities in question
Image Source : Indiatimes.In
During campaign rallies for general elections, Rahul Gandhi addressed masses on many occasions. However, his grip on political knowledge was very low. His presence on stage appeared to be scripted and his voice sounded conditioned for speech specifically. He could not convince public at all. Furthermore, his sudden and unexplained disappearance after the party’s embarrassing defeat in general elections and his absence in protest against NDA’s Land Acquisition Bill put his leadership qualities in question. He was completely out of sight, on holidays in the name of sabbatical, when his party members needed him the most. Also, his 57-day-long break came right before the budget-session.
Suppressed/silent protest from senior Congress leaders
Loyal members of Congress are enchanting Rahul Gandhi’s name, but there are some senior leaders who have stepped forward to question his capabilities as a leader. Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has expressed his views regarding lack of experience by saying that Rahul has a lot to learn before becoming the party head. Singh also advocated that Sonia Gandhi should retain the leadership. Sheila Dikshit also fell in line with his views and said that she felt more comfortable under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership.
The list of senior leaders who are against the elevation of Rahul Gandhi includes Kamal Nath along with many others. However, not all of them are able to express their despair due to party pressure.
Rahul’s oratory skills, wit and knowledge in question
Rahul Gandhi has remained in headlines for his inability to face debates on deep socio-economic and political issues and poor oratory skills. In five year in Lok Sabha as an MP, not even a single question came from Rahul. There were video footages showing him napping in Lok Sabha. He made headlines many times due to his confusion between words like ‘Bhrashtachar and Balatkar.’ He was ridiculed by opposition when seen searching for written scripts while addressing media and public.
Also, his nervousness was apparent on many occasions; especially when he appeared for a show on Times Now with Arnab Gowswami.
Missing when Land Acquisition Bill passed
The NDA government came into power and introduced the Land Acquisition Bill with tweaks. The bill is a crucial issue as it has made it easier to grab farming land on the name of industrial development. The bill snatched some of the fundamental rights like protest in case the farmer feels unsatisfied with compensation. The issue was taken up by various political parties, leaders, social activists etc., but Rahul did not appear to console and support distressed farmers. It has definitely hurt image of Gandhi family in the eyes of farmers and poorer section of the society. Although, he has returned and is likely to participate in upcoming protest rallies against the bill, but it is likely to fetch him and his party nothing.
Possible reaction to Rahul’s elevation
Image Source : Indiatimes.In
While the future of Rahul as the Congress chief is still in jeopardy, political experts and media have begun predicting reactions if he is elevated to top position of the party. While, party leaders deny any such possibility, there are hints that some of them might think of quitting from the party if this happens. Considering the divide that prevails within the party, the announcement regarding new chief of the party has been postponed.
Hard to exploit Gandhi pedigree in 21st century
The family surname seems to be gradually losing its grace. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India and Indira Gandhi had left deep imprints on Indian masses. Indira Gandhi led the Congress party for over 15years. Her assassination is associated with the sentiments of Indian people. Then, assassination of Rahul’s father, Rajeev Gandhi, in 1991added additional sentiments to the Gandhi family name.
However, newer generation is now debating over relevance of what the family did in the past and what it is capable of delivering in 2015. With social media as a common platform for educated and aware section of society, debates on this issue are widespread.
In addition to feebleness of Rahul, ruling BJP is trying to remove ‘Gandhi’ name from government schemes and replace them with their own. The opposition is also trying to raise monuments of their idols like Vallabhbhai Patel.
A recent revelation regarding Nehru-Gandhi family’s alleged spying on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose has further sparked the debate, clearly signifying that Gandhi surname is no more sufficient to regain power for the party.
Considering all the facts related to overall performance, capability, and personality of Rahul Gandhi, it won’t be wrong to say that Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the party head might actually worsen the situation for Congress as a whole.