Indian Decade

Rahul Gandhi Sounds Off

Rahul Gandhi is often seen as the likely next leader of the Congress. So what did he have to say to editors?

It doesn’t happen very often that Rahul Gandhi, the heir apparent of the Congress party, holds a brainstorming session with top editors, formally or informally. Indeed, he did so for the first time on Saturday when he had a breakfast meeting with select editors.

During the interaction, he made a point to explain why he was so proactively engaged in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest and politically most crucial state where the Congress has been out of power since December 1989. “If I don’t take the risk, who else will?” he asked, a remark pregnant with regional and national meaning.

The main rule for this unprecedented interaction was that it wasn’t supposed to be reported on, but a meeting this rare was never going to remain a secret.

During the 90-minute conversation, Rahul spoke his mind freely on multiple issues. He explained to the editors the reality of Uttar Pradesh’s political situation, discussed the National Counter Terrorism Center issue, the budget session of parliament, the fallout of the Maharashtra civic election results where the Congress fared poorly, and the frequent speculation about him taking over as prime minister.

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Sources said Rahul also discussed the roles of his mother Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra, who recently embarrassed the party in the ongoing UP elections.

He said it will take at least one election, perhaps even two or three, to get the job done, but he said he was young and could wait.

Such a brainstorming session is indicative of Rahul’s increased confidence as well as his growing assertiveness. The world will get a measure of his success or failure on March 6, when the results of the five state assembly polls, including UP, will be known. These assembly polls, touted as a semi-final match for the UPA government, may well be a good indicator of both the future of the UPA government, and who will hold the reins.