Is Rahul Destined for Power?

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It’s about 8.30 am in Atanga Chandpur village in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Shayam Choudhary is reading a local daily as he sits at a roadside tea stall. He mutters as he reads, loud enough for the other customers to hear.

“Rahul [Gandhi] has changed the discourse of this assembly election,” Choudhary says. The others at the stall nod in unison at this assessment of the heir-apparent to the ruling Congress Party leadership, and the man seen by many as favorite to succeed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The party, all agree, has come in from the political wilderness it wandered in the state two decades ago. The big question now is how it will have performed in the ongoing assembly poll when it comes time to tally the votes on March 6.

“Rahul has been working in this state for the last three or four years,” says Choudhary, who admits that he has been highly critical of the Congress in the past. “He’s been visiting villages, staying with poor people, eating with them and sleeping in their houses to try to understand the problems of the common man. Tell me, which other leaders show this kind of connection with the people?”

Rahul Gandhi, the 41-year-old son of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, looms over the election like no other, and he has been credited by some as bolstering the fortunes of Congress, which leads the United Progressive Alliance government, in rural areas.

His mass contact program across Uttar Pradesh has been ongoing for the past couple of years, and many believe that it has had a huge impact on the public’s impression of both Gandhi and the party he is expected one day to lead. His visits to poor hamlets, often involving spending nights there, have set him apart from other politicians, who usually confine themselves to holding rallies and other pre-prepared programs.

Such an approach is in stark contrast to when Gandhi first entered politics, when he successfully competed for a seat in parliament in 2004.

“I hadn’t learnt in all my life what I have learnt in the past couple of months,” he says. “For me, this is the cause. And the cause is to change the fate of the people of Uttar Pradesh. I don’t care how many seats I get in the state. The important thing is to restore hope in the minds of the people who have lost any hope for the future.”

Badri Narayan, a fellow at the Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute at the University of Allahabad, believes this approach has helped the dramatic turnaround in his image.

“His unconventional behavior – mingling with the common people, sharing meals and interacting with them – reveals an image of Rahul Gandhi as an honest, dedicated and conscientious leader…among people of every caste and class,” Narayan says.  

Satish Sharma, a senior journalist in Varanashi,agrees. “This man has changed the whole political discourse in the country, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. He is different from his father (Rajiv Gandhi)”.

Indeed, such comparisons with his dynastic predecessors seem inevitable. Rahul Gandhi is the fourth generation leader of the Nehru Gandhi family to be in the thick of Congress politics.His great grandfather, Motilal Nehru, was Congress president back in the 1920s, an a leader of India’s struggle for freedom. Motilal’s son, Jawaharlal Nehru, succeeded him as party chief in 1929 and later became the country’s first prime minister after Independence, remaining so until his death in 1964. 

Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister in 1966 and, except for a brief break of two years, remained the premier until she was assassinated in 1984. Her son –  Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi – ruled India for five years.

But after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, and with no one from the Nehru-Gandhi family at the helm, the Congress party started to fall apart. Although the party was in power from 1991 to 1996 under the leadership of P.V. Narsimha Rao, it started losing ground in crucial states like Uttar Pradesh. The party’s drift was compounded by the emergence of regional parties and the rise of rightists led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). With no charismatic leader to take the helm, the fortunes of the Congress looked to be on the decline.

 

“We had seven years without a Nehru-Gandhi at the helm of the party, between 1991 and 1998,” said veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar. “We became weak and we were withering away. It was the only when Sonia Gandhi, against all her instincts, took over the presidency of the party…that the regeneration of the Congress party began.”

Comments
11
Harshad
May 27, 2013 at 05:51

Rahul will never became PM. Why should he worked hard if he can have all the power with minimum work and minimum responsibilities. Rahul never had attitude,aptitude or work efficeny that is required by post of PM. He knows by experience of his mother that it is better to became king maker than king. Any way congress will not face this problem as their is no chance of winning next election for congress.

 

Michael
March 14, 2012 at 17:25

LLLLLOoooooooLLLLLLLLL!!! Thanks for the laugh of my day!

Praveen Reddy
March 6, 2012 at 21:01

Even Mr. Feroze Gandhi(Parsi) criticized the governance of his Father In Law (Nehru) and began a fight against corruption…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feroze_Gandhi

Praveen Reddy
March 6, 2012 at 20:52

Mr. Varun

Why r u so enraged buddy??? have u read the earlier posts of Mr. Sanjay Kumar???

I have pointed out to the biased nature of the Author???
did you find any un-parliamentary word in my reply… this shows enough of your manners in calling me idiot and drunk… if you do not agree with my opinion kindly put forward ur opinion so that we can debate..

And to the MK. Gandhi thing…. Dont try to educate me about the ill famed family line of Nehru, Feroze, Sanjay,Rajeev,Raul (Rahul) and Varun. Just wanted to put forward that these people are not living up to the Name of mr.Gandhi(even though not related but bearing the NAME).

next time please mind your langauage if your are taught to do so….

Varun
March 4, 2012 at 00:04

@ JJ

Are you for real?

Haven’t you ever heard of google?

Anyways, Feroze Gandhi (I wrote Firoze earlier, but pronunciation wise both are not that far considering the context implied) had absolutely nothing to do with Mahatma(MohanDas KaramChand) Gandhi (Father of modern Indian nation state)

Feroze Gandhi was a Parsi(Middle age Iranian descendant).

Jawarhal Nehru’s daughter Indira Nehru married Feroze Gandhi and thus the family is known as Nehru-Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi or his descendants or his adoption of anybody has absolutely nothing to do with Feroze Gandhi.

JJ
March 2, 2012 at 20:26

Firoz Gandhi? Was he not adopted by MK Gandhi?
What was Firoz’s original surname mr Varun? Can you enlighten us mere mortals?

Anjaan
March 2, 2012 at 11:01

No wonder Rahul Gandhi will become Prime Minister some day, only a matter of time. But that will not change India a bit from what it is.

Democracy is a double edged sword, and it is designed to benefit only those people that deserve it ……. when people do not deserve it, they have India ….. !

Democracy, for country like India where 70% of the people do not have two square meals a day let alone education, is a perfect system for organised loot by the politically elected with full protection of parliament, judiciary and a pliant media ….. !

The Western nations love democracy in countries like India, simply because it is easier for them to deal with the corrupt ….. !

Varun
March 2, 2012 at 01:23

@ Praveen Reddy

Are you drunk buddy?

Author painted both sides of the picture, the one about how Rahul is seen a potential PM and those who feel they are not sure.

And it is you who come off as an idiot, MK Gandhi has nothing to do with Rahul Gandhi, its to do with Firoze Gandhi (Indira Gandhi’s husband, you know?)

Also, all MP’s publish their assets before elections, you accuse others of bias why can’t you use freely available tool on the Internet to search for accurate information and thus avoid getting labeled a bigot.

Relating to the article, UP is actually not only India’s largest state, its the largest on the planet, at 200 million it is big enough to be 5th largest country of the world on its own.
Congress was down to around 3 MP’s from UP in late 90′s, then went too 9 in 2004 and now in last General Elections 2009 went to 22, this used to be their core bastion.

Vikram Gulati
March 1, 2012 at 15:47

Rahul Gandhi is an idea whose time has come! He is an honest person with impeccable integrity and a reputation and legacy to protect!He is not one of those who will ‘grab’ power for ‘money’! He has a blueprint in place, will work for the upliftment of the country and its speedy development! Please support him, give him a chance! Rahul Gandhi means business and he is here to stay! Cheers!

SCdad07
March 1, 2012 at 13:00

“A picture is worth a thousand words”- can you spot RAHUL in the picture?

Praveen Reddy
March 1, 2012 at 12:13

Well Done Mr. Sanjay Kumar…. U have proved it once again, that U are very pro congress and pro Nehru Family( Why Defame Mr. M.K.Gandhi using his surname to this utterly corrupted family….) We got a sniff of that always when u mentioned only Hindu Extreemism in ur earlier posts but not the vote bank Politics by the so called great nehru family.

What would be his prospects if he does not Have Gandhi to his name…. of course no one can deny his trips to UP but what is the intention …. to make more $$$ and even more $$$$.

I suspect why the 2G case has to stop at Raja or at the level of Chidambaram…..

As you said ” he is seen as future PM by Many” … are u one of them Sir..

My free advise for U, be biased but do let other people know u are….

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