Monday, May 11, 2009

Gandhi Ki Aandhi

The Baton has passed
India has been independent for 62 years and the Gandhi-Nehru family has been in the PM's office for almost 37.5 years. Yet you are not supposed to call it dynastic. Much of the name that India has earned elsewhere has been post globalization in the 1990’s. Strangely, none of the Gandhi scions have been in power during these times. Oh, maybe it was their policies that made globalization a reality for India. You might find it funny to hear old people in rural India still going out to vote for Indira Gandhi but that is the power that the surname commands.

Sonia was offered Rajiv Gandhi’s vacant chair way back in 1991 that she declined. She was probably still reeling in the aftermath of the tragedy that had struck her family but things are different today. Rahul has more than one reason to feel worthy for the throne that’s waiting for him adn why shouldn't he.

Reason 1 - The pedigree

There is nothing wrong in harboring political ambitions. Just as a doctor’s son becomes a doctor, a politician’s son can very well become a politician. Count this as a slight aberration when a doctor’s wife becomes the hospital in-charge and his son becomes the chief surgeon citing pedigree. Rahul Gandhi comes from a family that has a history of throwing up young leaders. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi both became prime ministers while they were still in their 40s. Rahul needs to live upto that expectation as well. After retuning to India in late 2002, he has in no time acquired supreme capabilities as a leader. What he did while he was away is debatable. However, since the verdict is not clearly out, we must give him the benefit of the doubt. [Read: For Rahul and Against Rahul]
Dynasty..what's that?
Reason 2 - Forthrightness:

If I admit to being bad, then I am good! Talk of idealism and the face of Rahul Gandhi crops up. With forthrightness, he had extolled his family’s feats back in 1971 that had the potency of jeopardizing Indo-Pak relations had Rahul been in some position of command. The same naivety or “forthrightness” was on display when he sang praises for his adversaries and derailing his party’s relations with his allies. Such was the impact that it cost people their positions and emissaries including the PM had to rush to explain the deep meaningful thoughts behind the praise. The silver lining is the refreshing feel that his forthrightness has given to politics. It really doesn’t matter if the timing was wrong. Rahul Gandhi can just not be wrong.

Reason 3 - Connection with the Youth:

I listened to Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with the youth in Ahmedabad. The intelligent man that he is, he declared that Gujarat was bigger than UK (the Google result on the comparison of size and population of these two suggests otherwise). There were claps all around. Sometimes, the charisma overshadows the effect of the words spoken. This was just one such case. He then went on to proclaim that India was BIGGER than US and Europe put together. (Link)

This time there were no claps. Maybe this time the power of words outweighed the charisma or maybe people were trying to figure where he got his stats from. Was he talking of the size of democracy and not the actual size? What would that comparison mean? It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that no one questioned him and people listened with apt silence. That shows how well he connects with the youth. If there are no arguments, you can safely assume that things are under control. He also presented a unique solution to getting rid of terrorism in 15 minutes. I don’t consider myself qualified enough to dig deep into the radical method he would choose to adopt. Did someone say empowering the villages could be one way to do so? I am amused.

On a more serious note, there is no denying the fact that Rahul Gandhi has an identity of his own. The reticent Gandhi of 2004 has become a confident Gandhi of 2009. But is personal improvement a measure of knowing how well he will do as a leader of repute? What if he had been an Indian Prime Minister sitting across a table with his Sri Lankan counterpart and lauding the guts and courage of Prabhakaran, what if he met Obama and praised his nationalistic feelings for taking measures against offshoring and what if he had gone ahead an declared war on Pakistan thinking that it was probably as big as Bhutan?

No one knows what holds in future. With time he may learn and become worthy enough to lead. He does have age on his side and the intent to improve is there. But what makes me cringe is the way people go about lauding his credentials as a leader today when all that he has done has been to “understand” his constituency. The rational side of me finds it hard to accept a person with refreshing thoughts but no restraint as my leader. The opportunist in me says that I should probably side with him.

After all, the might is always right and whether you like it or not, the dynasty is here to rule!


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