Rahul Gandhi has said that he is ready to play a bigger role in the party and the government. But when will he take up that important role, will be decided by his mother and Congress President, Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This means that Rahul will play a symbolic role in the organisation and an important role in the government. We will talk about his role in the government later; first let us discuss his role in the organisation.
There are some traffic rules; vehicles or pedestrians have to drive or walk on the left side of the road. If we try to walk on the right side of the road then an accident is inevitable. Likewise, political traffic too has some rules. If the rules of political traffic are flouted, a political accident is imminent. Rahul Gandhi has already had political accidents. Despite knowing that elections in Bihar were approaching, neither the Congress nor Rahul Gandhi do anything new to strengthen the party organisation. The State President of the Congress in Bihar, who had activated the party in the state, was sacked and a person known for his aristocratic personality was appointed instead. The whole party got paralysed. And during the distribution of tickets all the declarations that had been made over the past 1 year were forgotten and tickets were given to candidates who had no political locus standi. The result was along expected lines and the Congress lost badly in the Bihar elections.
Thereafter there was an interval of 2 years. Rahul Gandhi was aware of the impending Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly Elections. He also knew that after the loss in Bihar, people would be watching his activities and efficiency in Uttar Pradesh in a very sharply focused manner. A person like Rahul who is said to be the future Prime Minister, should have understood the implications of serial failures; in such an event his efficiency and capabilities were to naturally come under serious doubts. Despite this, Rahul did not do much to strengthen the party in UP. In UP he handed over the reins to Digvijaya Singh and Parvez Hashmi and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the party President in UP, was made almost inactive. She had been inactive in the state anyway. Under her leadership there was no organisational progress , and the party was run from Delhi. She remained idle for a year because it was rumoured that Rita Bahuguna Joshi would be removed as the President of the state Congress. So Rita Bahuguna Joshi did nothing, nor did the Congress. The result was obvious. Not only Congresspersons, but the media and the people of UP all knew much before the elections that the Congress will be at the very bottom. But Rahul did not see this reality and because Rahul was not able to see this Congress too turned a blind eye.
The Congress spent way more money in UP than in Bihar. At place after place, Rahul Gandhi organised rallies. According to a broad estimate around Rs. 200 crores were spent on media management. Maybe spending such a large sum became a major cause for the troubles of the Congress, because the media never told the Congress that it was going to lose in UP. The money was given to television channels to show only Rahul’s face and not the gatherings at his rallies. Rahul and the Congress both have not been able to comprehend till today that this second political mishap happened in UP due to their own lack of understanding. This can be excusable for an average party cadre or a second grade leader. But how excusable are these results for a leader who is close to becoming the Prime Minister of the country ? This has to be decided, along with the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi, by Rahul himself.
Political accidents are also about to take place in Gujarat because Assembly Elections are due in Gujarat this year itself and in 2 months time the election process will begin. Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi the Congress is repeating the same mistakes in Gujarat, as it did in UP and Bihar. After Gujarat, elections are due in Himachal Pradesh and then in Madhya Pradesh. If you are going to repeat mistakes everywhere, have political accidents everywhere, it means your mind is not working properly.
Political accidents are also about to take place in Gujarat because Assembly Elections are due in Gujarat this year itself and in 2 months time the election process will begin. Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi the Congress is repeating the same mistakes in Gujarat, as it did in UP and Bihar. After Gujarat, elections are due in Himachal Pradesh and then in Madhya Pradesh. If you are going to repeat mistakes everywhere, have political accidents everywhere, it means your mind is not working properly. This comment might not go down well with Rahul, his colleagues and Congress party members, but Congress workers will not take any exception to it. I know this, and I know this because I am writing on the basis of my interactions with the Congress workers over the past few months. The Congress workers want to be active, they want to do something for the party, but alongside they also want healthy competition within the party. If the party leader is usually seen breaking his promises on a large scale then the workers believe this is tantamount to betrayal. It was said in Bihar that more than 30 per cent of the tickets would be given to the youth, but this did not happen. Rahul spent all his time in strengthening the Youth Congress. Being the General Secretary of the Youth Congress, he was in charge but the youth in Bihar did not get tickets. ‘The youth’ means those members of the Youth Congress who work and struggle to strengthen the base of the party. But tickets were given to the new breed of politicians in the name of ‘the youth’, to new contractors and strongmen flaunting costly vehicles like Scorpio and Bolero, and those who were musclemen and owned guns and rifles. The results were obvious.
Almost the same thing happened in UP. In both the states Rahul did not allow a strong organisation to come up. At first, Digvijaya Singh made an attempt to choose those candidates who would be able of strengthen the party in their districts or areas. But Digvijaya’s step was only a half-truth because this does not lead to the rise of an organisation. But yes, it would have created only an illusion of an organisation. But Rahul Gandhi turned a deaf ear to Digvijay Singh’s advice at the last moment and made Kanishka Singh in charge of the team entrusted to garner winning votes. Together, they gave tickets to people who had no mass base and were rejected by other parties and who were not able to tickets. In the Congress party, it was said that by giving such tickets ‘we were able to break away leaders from the Samajwadi Party (SP), from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’. These were those people who would never have got a ticket from their own original party. The third and most dangerous experiment that Rahul did was distributing tickets on the basis of quotas. Beni Prasad Verma, Mohan Prakash and Rashid Masood were a part of this and all the candidates to whom they gave tickets were defeated. It is a big crime not to build a strong organisation and disappoint party workers. Unless Rahul realises how big a crime this is, he will not be successful in any role he decides to take up.
In UP, the Congress workers made a solid number of members but when the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) elections or district level elections came up, nominations were made from Delhi. The party workers were so disheartened and sad with this that they stopped taking interests in party affairs. Now elections are to be held in Gujarat. The Congress is taking no action in Gujarat. It seems that the Congress wants Narendra Modi to come to power again, so he can be seen as having remained politically strong. The Congress party can then project this and lead a negative campaign against him and start a campaign for garnering votes in the country. Why is Rahul unable to understand this? If he is so dumb then how will he bear responsibilities and run the party, and if he is not dumb then he is highly intelligent. He does not want to do anything and wants to go by the old saying, “A person blinded by the greenery of the monsoon month of ‘sawan’ can see just greenery and greenery” (“Sawan ke andhe ko, hara hi hara dikhayee deta hai”). If Rahul wants to learn from somewhere, then he should learn from his grandmother, Indira Gandhi. Shrimati Gandhi always practised offensive politics. She always created issues. The Opposition always remained occupied with answering her questions. By the time it could answer one question, Mrs. Gandhi would fire three more. Rajiv Gandhi did not do this, and after him all the Congress Presidents did not do it at all. Due to the worthlessness of the BJP, the Congress won again in 2009 and this time around the Congress cadres are shouting their hearts out that the Congress will get between 110 and 115 seats or at the most 120 seats in the Lok Sabha. It might be that the Congress could get an absolute majority, but why is not the party trying to understand the pain of its common workers? Why doesn’t Rahul Gandhi want to understand the heartache behind the tears of party workers, which is prodding them to say that the party will get between 110 and 115 seats or at the most 120 seats in the next Lok Sabha.
Now a new strategy is being discussed. The decision makers within the Congress want to put Rahul Gandhi to a new political examination: to make him a Cabinet Minister and put him in charge of Rural Development, and thus to make two power centres within the cabinet. But when Rahul will be inducted in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, though he will not be the Prime Minister he will behave like one, will deliver speeches like one and will become a parallel power centre. Now this scenario does not seem to have crossed the minds of the decision makers in the Congress. The Congress thinks that when there would be two parallel centres of power that will appear to be fighting with each other, then as in the case of the spectacle of two quarreling monkeys, the public will savour it and will stand and clap in favour of Rahul though without any reason. Had it been 20 years ago, this would have worked, but not now because the public has matured, has become more aware and has come to identify problems more clearly. Perhaps, it is due to this that the campaign to build the Youth Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, going on for the past 9 years, has not taken off and the Congress is looking all the more weak. The official membership of the party has gone down.
If Rahul Gandhi becomes a Cabinet Minister and says that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has failed in the non-Congress-ruled states and the poor have not benefitted from it, then it will create a new kind of confrontation because currently money goes from the Centre to the states. Either Deshmukh or Jayram Ramesh, whoever has been the Rural Development Minister, he has always pointed fingers at non-Congress governments saying that these governments have not implemented MGNREGS properly. But the question is whether the Congress-ruled states have implemented it properly. It is obvious that Rahul won’t be targetting the Congress governments; he will train guns on the non-Congress governments. Consequently, the non-Congress governments will get a new weapon to attack Rahul, and Rahul will unwittingly say something for which he will have to pay a political price.
We are not writing all this against Rahul Gandhi. We want that Rahul Gandhi learns and becomes mature. Rahul must understand the contradictions within the country. He should understand the mutual harmony and mutual animosity within this country. He must understand the physiology behind the fact that despite the absence of any substance in religion-based conflicts, people get severely affected by it. He must understand the chemistry of mutual relations among the poor. We want him to understand all these things because in case he gets a chance to become the Prime Minister, he will be able to give the country a better leadership. He should not give a leadership based on bureaucratic efforts. Rahul Gandhi must take up responsibilities with wisdom as well as enthusiasm because till now all his enthusiasm has been evident only during elections. Before and after elections his enthusiasm gets lost somewhere. In the midst of all this what he speaks nobody knows. The nation needs such a leader with whom it is acquainted fairly well and with whom the nation is ready to stand shoulder to shoulder. For the sake of informing Rahul Gandhi, it must be mentioned that his own party produced such a leader with whom the country stood shoulder to shoulder, and he was Lal Bahadur Shastri.