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Terrors of Rahul raj: Sheila reveals the real reason why Sonia is still queen
Some people make everybody happy wherever they go; some whenever they go.
The tragedy of Rahul Gandhi is not just that he makes his critics happy every time he disappears. He is a disaster because even his party leaders do not want him to return. For some of them even the idea is scary.
A few weeks ago, when Rahul had proceeded on a sabbatical, it was presumed that Congress leaders would yearn for his return, that they would realise that it is difficult to run the Congress without him. Even Rahul would have hoped that absence would make the hearts of Congress workers and leaders grow fonder of him.
Instead, their minds have now begun to wander in search of an alternative.
“I am yet to meet anybody who has any critical remarks to make about the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. I can say it with absolute confidence. Whereas (in case of) Rahul, of course, there is a question mark, there is skepticism because you have not seen him perform as yet,” former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit said on Monday.
Implicit in Sheila’s kahani is the moral: the Congress is much better with Sonia running the show. Rahul, on the other hand, can continue to holiday.
Terrors of Rahul raj Sheila reveals the real reason why Sonia is still queen
Dikshit’s is not the only red flag for Rahul’s return and imminent anointment as the Congress president. Punjab heavyweight Amarinder Singh and Dikshit’s son Sandeep had also publicly expressed their preference for Sonia over Rahul.
Junior Dikshit had earlier this month said that Sonia is the “leader” for “99 percent of partymen” and she was needed at the helm now more than ever. Singh had said Sonia should retain Congress presidentship and a generational change cannot be done “with a knife”.
You’ve got to pity the Congress.
Moving away from the past, building on it for a new future, is the basic principle of evolution. But for that to happen, the future has to hold out the promise of achche din. But the Congress has begun to fear what lies ahead. It doesn’t want to move forward and has tethered its hopes and aspirations to an ageing mother who, on her part, is doomed to wait for her son to step up. It is a tragic status-quo, a deathly inertia.
The odd equation- loyalists want mother, mother wants son, and nobody knows what the son wants – is unlikely to last. Since Sonia can’t go on forever, the Congress will have to either choose a new leader or accept the heir apparent as a fait-accompli.
The Congress knows that it can’t survive without the Gandhis. As long as even one of them is around, workers and leaders will gravitate towards them. Even if he remains a token, incompetent presence, like Bahadurshah Zafar with whom he is often compared, Rahul will remain the choice, mostly by default.
If the party could have split, it would have by now. The drubbing in Lok Sabha election, debacle in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand and the annihilation in Delhi assemblies were valid reasons for rebellion. But since nothing has happened so far, since Congress leaders continue to depend on the dynasty for revival, there is very little chance that Rahul will face a challenge from within, unless Sonia herself endorses someone from outside the family.
“The Congress and Sonia know that despite all this Rahul is the only alternative. Priyanka attracts but the attraction is for reasons other than political. To counter her advantages, there is Robert Vadra as counterpoint. This gym bird and real estate magician does not quite sound Nehru material. Instead of the akhadas which supplied material to the party, he is redesigned as a creature of the gymnasium, a six-pack obsessive whose morals suffer from muscular dystrophy. The options are not many. All one can do is choose from different variants of Rahul,” argues social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan.
So, if Rahul’s leadership is inevitable, why can’t the Congress leaders keep quiet and enjoy it?
Much as their fears and question marks over him are justified, those scared of Rahul’s return are worried also about the changes he will introduce in the Congress. From whatever little Rahul has done in the Congress, it is clear that he wants a clean break from the Congress of Sonia and Manmohan Singh. Rahul, as his erratic experiments have revealed, is keen on internal democracy and young and strong leaders in states.
By giving important responsibilities to Sachin Pilot (Rajasthan), Jyotiraditya Scindia (MP), Ajay Maken (Delhi) and Ghulam Ahmed Mir (J&K), Rahul has shown that he will retire an entire generation of leaders-like Dikshit in Delhi and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan– who prospered during the Sonia era. Rahul is convinced that the Congress needs this purge because regional leaders are equally responsible for the decline of the Congress.
By not acting swiftly on his beliefs, not implementing his ideas with conviction, like Hamlet, Rahul has merely complicated his own life. His indecision has only added to the misery of the old guard waiting for the axe to fall, first on them and then on the Congress.
Sonia is equally to be blamed. By staying on as the final court of appeal, by acting as a doting mother and simultaneously entertaining the whining Congress leaders like an indulgent mother in law, she is needlessly creating too many power centres within the party.
If Sonia is convinced that Rahul is her successor, she should thrust the leadership immediately on his shoulders and let him do whatever he wants with the Congress.
If Rahul is destined to fail, Sonia isn’t doing anybody a favour by prolonging the agony and delaying the inevitable.