Prince of Tides

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Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the Congress Vice President status was a mere formality for a party, which has time and again fallen on the Gandhi-Nehru family ever since Independence. Even outside the party, political analysts including the media had long predicted that Rahul would be the face of the Congress in the next Lok Sabha Elections slated for 2014.  While the clamor for a Gandhi at the center of all things Congress is debatable, the accusations of dynastic politics no longer hold good since those who raise their voice against such a practice, are not able to look within their own parties and the practice of their own leaders. Take any major political party on the National scene and there are scores of examples of relatives, spouses and children of political leaders taking to the arena of power. Nearer home, we see it across different parties.

While the famous Gandhi surname has inevitably lent Rahul the sycophancy and an almost servile section of leaders and other people around him, his speech at the Jaipur meet has made many observers to consider on what other areas of Rahul Gandhi, the person is waiting to come out in the open. Long considered to be not too good with his communication skills, Rahul Gandhi has been seen as less charismatic than his younger sister, Priyanka Vadhera. Positioned as a ‘young leader’ with his group of foreign educated MPs clubbed as the ‘baba log’, Rahul Gandhi had only given the public, rare instances of people skills. The people of Manipur had their share of the ‘Rahul’ magic when he stopped by on a road side hotel and deigned to eat like the common man. The first such instance of ‘being one with the common man’ was a media circus and involved him spending the night at a Dalit man’s house. Sadly, that did not transfer into any votes when UP went to the polls and the Congress got four seats less than it did in 2007 winning a mere 28 out of 404 seta in the 2012 elections. Another young leader Akhilesh Yadav, another son of a political leader Mulayam Singh Yadav won the seat of power.

In the face of critical comments against Rahul Gandhi’s ineffective public speeches and the lack of clarity on current issues, his impassioned speech at Jaipur has managed to do what all his speeches in the past 9 years of his political career has not been able to achieve: make him heard and see the person he is. Given that he is going to be pitched against Narender Modi in 2014 in all likelihood makes it all the more interesting. One has literally breathed life into a party and become more than just a political brand name, despite all the cries of having blood on his hands. One is yet to have said anything substantial or shown to have done anything substantial, except for bringing in ‘young blood’. But as many observers point out again, ‘young blood’ is what Rahul Gandhi’s father, the late Rajiv Gandhi brought in along with promises of new beginnings. The knives are out and so are the platitudes. But if Rahul is to head the country, he would need more than impassioned speeches. If nothing else, his stepping into the number two position, will give some interesting moments till 2014 decision time. For now, it is another son rising.

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