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Is Rahul against dynastic politics?

Rahul Gandhi does not generally come to the Central Hall of Parliament. He also rarely passes through the grand round hall, which has come to be known as the hotbed of politics and also centre of gossip. It was a rare day last week when recently appointed Congress Vice-President came to the Central Hall and occupied a front bench.

It was a surprise to journalists present in the hall and they as well as few party MPs surrounded him. He appeared to be in an introspective mood and even before presspersons shot their questions, he posed the questions himself and replied forcefully and frankly. ‘Asking me whether I want to become the prime minister is a wrong question. My priority is not to become the PM’, he said. Rahul then became philosophical and told scribes and his party MPs that his ideal was Mahatma Gandhi and he believed in
Niskam Karma
– work without expecting results – a principle enunciated in Bhagwat Gita by Lord Krishna while discoursing with Arjun. It may be recalled since Rahul’s appointment as the party vice-president at Jaipur meeting of the AICC, the talk of his becoming the prime ministerial candidate has gathered momentum. Rahul told newspersons and MPs that his priority was to build up the organisation while broad-basing the power structure and decision making. He believes in long-term politics.

Rahul’s reluctance to become his party’s prime ministerial candidate is in sharp contract to the ambitious Narendra Modi, who has been untiringly campaigning to become the BJP’s PM candidate. Media reports say that ultimately the BJP’s top leadership may project the Gujarat chief minister as the party’s prime ministerial nominee.

He got a euphoric response at the BJP’s National Council meeting last week but indications soon came to the fore that some senior party leaders would try and contain his ambition. Another important assertion made suo moto by Rahul, ‘I do not want to get married’, is interpreted as taking a swipe at dynastic politics of which the Congress is repeatedly castigated by its opponents.The charge was first hurled at Jawaharlal Nehru that he was grooming his daughter, Indira Gandhi, to succeed him. Though Nehru had denied any such motive, Indira did become the prime minister.

A debate had raged then, if Nehru was grooming her daughter to take his place. Though had denied he had any such intention, the fact remains that Indira Gandhi was well trained in politics by him and became the Congress President at a young age during Nehru’s time.

Also, Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded Nehru and not Indira but no one can deny that Nehru trained his daughter well in politics as late in his life, Indira was doing most of his political work. It is no secret that Indira Gandhi groomed Sanjay to succeed her but following his death in a plane crash, she also prevailed upon a reluctant Rajiv to join politics. Sonia Gandhi was too opposed to her husband in taking plunge in the uncertain world of politics.

Rajiv became the prime minister soon after the tragic assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Sonia Gandhi’s plan is to handover the reign of the party to Rahul and appoint him to the prime minister’s chair is not a secret.

On her part, Sonia took a long time to join politics after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. She then shocked and surprised the nation by declining the top post despite paving way for the Congress to stage a come back in 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Rahul significantly explained logically why he does not have immediate plans to get married. He does not wish to tie the knot and start a family as doing so would lead him to develop a vested interest in status quo at the expense of his mission to democratise the Congress and decentralise the decision-making.

He asserted, ‘If I get married and have children, I will become status quoist and will be more concerned about bequeathing my position to my children’. This well thought off remark may be interpreted to mean that the Gandhi family’s scion is against dynastic succession. Apparently, this is a sharp change to the practice of dynastic rule and explodes the myth that only a scion of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty can lead the Congress.

Besides Lal Bahadur Shastri, whose tenure was too short, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh were two prime ministers outside the dynasty. Sonia Gandhi was instrumental in making Rao the prime minister but, subsequently, he gathered his own strength and following and started ignoring her.

Singh has been ruling the country with the support and backing of Sonia Gandhi for almost two terms. It is a stark truth that he would not remain the prime minister even for a minute without her backing but a good and honest man, as he is, Singh has earned her full trust.

The truth is that Manmohan Singh is not attached to office, as his predecessors had been, and this is, perhaps, the key to his success.

Unlike his father, Rahul has been in politics for eight years now; he is not a novice and has learnt a lot.

When he says prime ministership is not his priority, he means it as of now. If not Rahul, who would be the Congress party’s prime ministerial candidate in May 2014 general election? (IPA)
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