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Political Play
Ratan Sharda
Can Rahul Gandhi break the very structure that took him to the top? 24 January, 2013
Now that Mr. Shinde's spell binding insight into the root cause of terrorism has stirred the nation, and blown away the feel-good glow of Rahul Gandhi's official ascension to the top post of Congress, we can introspect. The dust has settled on the glowing, and the not so glowing and downright critical view of Rahul's ascent. There is analysis about what he should do to bring home the beacon, so to say, for the Congress and liberate beloved India from the clutches of dynastic politics, corrupt leaders and bureaucracy - and in this context we can take a calmer look at Rahul and his ideas.

First of all, let us not ridicule Rahul for his reluctance to accept the crown without giving him time to spell out his views on national issues. Let us not make fun of fawning leaders looking up to their newly anointed leader with sycophantic eyes  and folded hands, nearly prostrating themselves before him – for that is the secret behind Congress’s success. Leaders need to be beholden to Nehru-Gandhi dynasty or else doom is just round the corner.

Recall the days of Sitaram Kesri and Arjun Singh post Narasimha Rao. These so called leaders have learnt their lessons. Better be under the command of a feudal lord and have crumbs of power, whatever they may be; rather than starve out of power. They know their limitations. They are incapable of leading or staying together. No love of ‘azadi’ or ‘inner party democracy’ for them. Home is where bread is. And home minister is where his lord/queen wishes him to be.

I like Rahul’s earnestness. No doubt he wishes to learn as much about India and its people as possible. While he wishes to take the top post after understanding people and politics of India, his followers don’t have time and patience for it. So, he had to take a plunge after eight long years of wait. He feels that eight years is a long time to understand Bharat and claims to have big experience now, enough experience to guide Congress leaders who have been around for as many years as probably his age. As many commentators have noted, his speech was tear wringing, pulling all the right emotional strings. It is supposed to be his best speech.

Can we judge him by this speech? It is at best, rhetorical pick up from anti-corruption rallies he might have seen on TV (he never came out to meet agitating citizens).  He has raised the questions as if he is not part of the power structure that helped nurture this economic and social system. Unfortunately he is part of this system that has brought him to the top by virtue of his genes, not because of any proven talent in social, economic or political problem solving. He has listed the problems that are known to all of us. He has not offered any solution.

If he were to provide solution, he shall have to struggle against the very forces that were cause of his rise. Will it be possible? If one were to accept Late Rajiv Gandhi’s innocence and believe that he did wish to remove ‘satta ke dalaal’ or power brokers etc., one must agree that Mr. Q thrived under his benign gaze and resulted in his downfall. It is not easy to kick the stairs on which you climbed up, but it is suicidal if the stair also happens to be the scaffolding that is holding the super structure of power.

Rahul still misses the good things in life even as he goes to a Dalit house. As Ms. Sagarika Ghosh has so succinctly put it – he is a democrat during the week and a socialite on weekend. No quarrel with him enjoying a bit of clubbing. But, he needs to decide where does his heart lay – in party office, villages or in pubs and clubs? This will decide whether he can deliver or not.

India needs a decisive, not a tentative or reluctant leader. A leader who leads by example, not by family right, a leader who doesn’t scoot off to vacations when the nation is burning, a leader who prefers not to be silent whenever there is fire. Homily is fine for Q&A sessions with youth in TV studios or college halls, but not when concrete policies alone will give results.

Rahul needs to speak out clearly his views on every day issues that crop up day in and day out. He has to spell out his views on economics that would help India grow and not just advocate an economy that works on doles, without any corresponding plan to raise revenues that would help finance such political largesse.

We have seen how Europe and nearly the whole welfare economics world have collapsed. These economies worked fine while population was young and economy growing, but are now struggling to support elders who have been abandoned by social system that destroyed family system, the real insurance for the elders. These economies had reached certain heights before they created such social welfare schemes for a nearly 100% productive population. They never tweaked the system to suit changing times and are now in doldrums. We are trying to create such dole-based systems without correspondingly strong economy. Are we going to traverse the same disastrous path? He needs to spell out his priorities clearly.

A leader may not necessarily be highly intelligent, but he needs to have advisors who provide needed intelligence or intelligent inputs to the leader. Can likes of Digvijaya Singh and Sushilkumar Shinde provide such crucial inputs? His great-grandfather created a hybrid monster called mixed economy,  influenced by Fabian romanticism. It took 46 years before it was dismantled and Indian genius took Indian economy on a totally different trajectory. His father did take a different route that resulted in 1993 break from past of perennial shortages and license raj. But, his mother has again created a strange economic animal buffeted on one side by Jholawas and  on the other by ex-World bank and IMF bureaucrats. Does he have clarity to choose a clear path between these two extremes and bring tottering economy back on track? We have no clue, he is still talking of woolly headed ideas.

It will need high levels of energy to break the vicious circle that has engulfed Indian socio-political life, specially the Congress politics. Unless Rahul brings out deep self-faith and fiery resolve, he cannot break the shackles that have bound Congress, and also brought him to the high pedestal. Without such resolve and fight within, he cannot hope to liberate his party and the nation from stifling atmosphere that his own party has brought it to. He has been shielded by sycophants for too long. He will not have such protection anymore.

That is why I say let us not prejudge the reluctant leader, who seems to have finally risen. He may turn out to be better than what he is perceived to be, but for that he shall need to bring down the structure that has brought him up.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Ratan Sharda is a citizen journalist. He has authored books like 'Secrets of RSS'. A marketing consultant by profession, Mr. Sharda is a keen observer of the country's political scenario.
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