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Rahul's rhetoric

Publication Date : 22-01-2013


Sure the captive audience was “wowed”: acolytes went rapturous, exhausted their superlatives lauding Rahul Gandhi’s “coming of age” address.

As on his rare interventions in Parliament, the now officially-anointed second-in-command of the not-so-grand old party opted to play on emotions, not forgetting to stress “family” (his sole claim to fame), recall past leaders and what have you.

Yet the tear-jerking effort will shortly be subjected to more severe test--what has the Congress activist taken away from Jaipur? Has the man chosen to lead the party’s next campaign injected enough inspiration in the rank and file, who actually count for more than the sycophants who wrecked the “organisation” that both Rahul and Sonia admit requires overhaul?

And since the larger goal is electoral success, the more stringent test will be whether the Pink City jamboree will spark appreciation beyond that captive audience. It is therefore appropriate not to read too much into the applause--when have the Gandhis not been accorded divine status by their myriad minions--just as it is important not to endorse the Opposition’s making light of the affair.

A veteran Congress leader pleaded on TV to “give him a chance”. Fair enough. Yet it would be equally fair to ask what has Rahul done with the abundant chances already provided. Only fawning insiders are convinced that he has reworked and democratised the youth wings of the party. The electoral campaigns he conducted in a couple of states have flopped, he has declined to accept ministerial responsibility. So emotion apart, what are his credentials, or track record?

Unlike some media “personalities” this newspaper does not demand that he “perform” every time a TV crew is around, but the people still do not know his views on a range of national issues, issues which could attract or deter the voter. The cataloguing of shortcomings by both mother and son at Jaipur was tacit admission of failure, of the party in dire need of re-projecting itself to traditional supporters, reaching out to new ones.

Polls are on the horizon, Rahul will have to spell out his game-plan fast, if he does indeed have one: for himself, party, and possibly government. Recent events have confirmed a shift in the projection of the people’s clout, tradition and sympathy are wearing thin.

Rahul’s melodramatic confession that his mother tearfully enlightened him on the poison of power does not impress--who forced him into drinking from that tainted cup? “Sacrifice” is a sick sales-pitch, especially when considered in the light of some reports that internal projections on the eve of the Jaipur meeting gave the Congress less than 90 Lok Sabha seats if an election were called today.


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