While the entire nation is busy fighting COVID-19 crisis gripping the entire world, former AICC President Rahul Gandhi is looking for an opportunity to relaunch himself as leader of the party once again, taking the help of COVID 19 situation
Bengaluru: While the entire nation is busy fighting COVID-19 crisis gripping the entire world, former AICC President Rahul Gandhi is looking for an opportunity to relaunch himself as leader of the party once again, taking the help of COVID 19 situation.
Instead of working on the ground with COVID warriors and helping the poor sections with food and money, Rahul Gandhi has chosen to severely criticise the present Modi government at Centre on each and every issue connected to COVID.
But he ignores the fact that PM Modi's proactive measures to deal with COVID in a country with 130 billion people, is and has been acclaimed by one and all in the world.
His maturity in interacting with the people and his leadership skills have been appreciated by the countries, including those developed countries who have seen the worst devastation and deaths due to COVID. His statesmanship of providing COVID drug to dozens of countries has been acknowledged by all as an unprecedented move.
Rahul Gandhi's online video conference with former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and his lecture series with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee on economic fall out of the COVID 19 outbreak in the country is being viewed as a precursor to his return to the Congress president's post. Recently, interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi had constituted a consultative committee headed by Manmohan Singh but packed with Rahul's coterie to formulate the party's political and policy views in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. The absence of any other contender for the top Congress post in the past one year has again propelled the Gandhi scion by default into pole position.
In the interaction Banerjee said a bigger stimulus package was needed to address the crisis, as money needed to be put in the hands of the people to revive demand. In fact, Banerjee was of the opinion that cash transfers should go beyond the poorest of the poor and follow the examples of the US and Japan, which have been making direct cash transfers to all residents or a very large section of their populations.
Thanks to the vision of PM Modi who made opening of Jan-dhan accounts mandatory for poor people for making direct transfer of Government benefits into their accounts. This ensured transparency and leakage of money into the hands of middlemen. This too was vehemently opposed by Rahul Gandhi as president of the Congress.
Rahul's lecture series with eminent economists appears to be setting the stage for his relaunch as Congress leader. After the Congress's Lok Sabha debacle last year, the Gandhi scion had quit as party president taking responsibility for the massive defeat. However, in the subsequent months it has appeared that Congress is unwilling or unable to look beyond the Gandhis for leadership. Sonia Gandhi taking over the party presidency was a stop-gap arrangement. Which is why Congress might be looking at the present Covid-19 crisis as the right time to relaunch Rahul as a leader.
The discussions with well-known economic experts are also an attempt to distinguish Rahul as someone who understands economic issues and governance, feeding into the Congress's narrative that the BJP dispensation has made a hash of the economy. While all of this might provide Rahul with a platform, but it won't amount to much if he continues to be a part-time politician.
Therefore, if things are indeed building up to Rahul's relaunch, he must hit the ground running and be in public imagination 24×7.
The lecture series can't be an end in itself. It has to give rise to a more hands-on politician who connects with ordinary people if Rahul is to successfully lead Congress.
While Gandhi hopes to add heft to his leadership and intellectual bearing through such interactions, the failure to take up administrative berths when he had ample opportunity to do so will always remain a gaping hole in his aspiring political career.
With elections turning increasingly presidential in nature, the bigger challenge for him is to rebuild the Congress organisation and to personally win greater credibility among the masses. PM Modi whom Rahul Gandhi considers his political rival, continues to be the most charismatic politicians India has ever seen. Rahul's second coming will be closely watched for similarities and differences from his earlier stint as the country's top opposition leader.
The country is watching his contribution in mitigating the nation's crisis arising out of COVID 19. Instead of supporting the COVID warriors on the front line, his party is sympathising with the cause of COVID spreaders, terrorists who get killed in the valley, those who get lynched in the public. His party's selective stand on various sensitive issues is known to the public and if he thinks that his silence on some important issues and over criticizing on some other issues is going to win him the hearts of the people then he is thoroughly mistaken.
He will have to work heart, identify with people on the ground and issue statements which are worth considering, before once again presiding over the already dead and gone party.
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Last Updated May 11, 2020, 2:33 PM IST