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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 51

Emergence of Rahul Gandhi in Indian Politics

Tuesday 11 December 2007, by Suvrokamal Dutta

Lately Indian politics is seeing the emergence of many young political leaders into the National scene with Rahul Gandhi, the son of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, taking the lead in it. Such a trend is no doubt a welcome development in Indian politics. At least now India can hope to have some dynamism in its political scene based on some vision for social and economic development.

The coming of Rahul Gandhi into the centre- stage of Indian politics should also be viewed in such a context. Leaving aside the hype created by the Congress party of making Rahul Gandhi as the projected 2009 Prime Ministerial candidate, one can at least hope a better and wider vision from the high-profile techno savy Western returned young Gandhi for the Congress party as well as for India. Besides the pomp and grandeur which was seen at the just concluded AICC session in New Delhi in which Rahul Gandhi was projected from the dais as the leader of the future Congress with much of fun fare and battle cries. But the real question is: does the reality of the present-day Indian politics match with the battle cries from the AICC dais? This is something which would be a matter of debate within the Indian political circles in the coming few months.

Rahul Gandhi’s projection by the Congress party as its 2009 Prime Ministerial candidate is somewhat far-fetched as the young Gandhi in relation to Indian politics is still a toddler; he has to learn a lot about the complexities of the Indian political system and this can come only through some hard-earned grassroot level experience and by a long innings in Indian politics. However, it is a welcome sign that Rahul Gandhi has finally taken the hard plunge.

But then a lot depends on how Rahul carries himself in the coming years in the Indian political scene. Now that he is gradually taking the centre- stage of the Congress party’s politics, a lot of responsibility has fallen on his shoulders. Whether the Congress party can deliver in the 2009 parliamentary elections under his leadership is a big question which only the results of 2009 will tell. Taking a look into the recent Uttar Pradesh State Assembly elections in which Rahul Gandhi had taken a lead role, that seems to be a Herculean task for him and Rahul should be aware of it.

The Congress party is in a very weak wicket in the main States of the Hindi heartland of India. Its position is pathetic in the States of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan which give more then 150 seats in the Indian parliament.

Rahul Gandhi has to toil a lot in all these States if the Congress has to gain a respectable position in all these States. In the States of Jharkhand, Himchal, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir the party faces a lot of dissidence and Rahul has to overcome this if the Congress party has to do well in all these States. In the States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala the party needs to work a lot to attain a respectable position. In the State of Maharashtra the party has to finish once and for all its problems with its alliance partner NCP if the party wants to perform well there. Now that Rahul Gandhi has come into the centre-stage of the party he needs to keep the above factors in mind.

In the State of West Bengal the party should tie up with the TMC of Mamata Banerjee if it wants to do well. Only then it can take the Communists head on in that State. In North-East India too the party should choose its alliance well wherever it is weak. Rahul Gandhi should also keep in mind that India is in a era of collation politics and as such the Congress under his guidance should be broad minded enough to give seats to its alliance partners looking into the ground realities.

It would be advisable for Rahul to be a realist and judge the ground realities well and not get carried away by the hype of the party members. He should himself judge the ground realities for which he should travel to the nook and corner of the country, and interact with the poor and illiterate masses of the far-flung areas and get the pulse of the people. It is time for him to know the ground realties if he has to mature into a hard-baked, rough and tough politician of future India. It is time for him to come out of his marble palace and his AC car and discard the lap top and speak the language of the masses.

Rahul Gandhi should also keep in mind that 2009 is the real test for him and he has to deliver handsomely for his party if he has to sustain himself in Indian politics. He should keep in mind that 2009 is the semi-final round for him and not the final round He should not dream about the post of Prime Minister in 2009. If he delivers in 2009 only then there would be none to stop him from becoming the Prime Minster of India in 2014 if the Congress party wins the elections then. It is this reality which Rahul should keep in mind.

The author is a well known foreign affairs and economic expert and a political critic. Chairman, Global Council for Peace, he is the convenor of Debating India. He can be contacted at e-mail: sk_dutta70@yahoo.co.in, dutta007@hotmail.com

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