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Millennium Post

Meatless, mediocre, myopic: as always

That Rahul Gandhi needs a crash course in public speaking is not a new observation. But the Congress vice-president’s decision to come out and appear in a television interview and the face the heat from a newsanchor known for strong, direct and often embarrassing questions, seems to have boomeranged, landing the ‘reluctant prince’ in further quandary. Not only did the Gandhi scion look nervous and unsure, while sounding repetitive and off-track, dodging pertinent queries not adroitly but in a devastatingly befuddled manner, he also came across as someone who is completely out of sync with the need of the hour within the rudderless Congress party. Rahul’s constant frame of reference is his own dynasty and the deaths therein, be it his grandmother’s, father’s or uncle’s, and his banking on personal tragedy in order to rewrite the contours of his party politics and indeed find a foothold in the rough and tumble of the national politics. While his surname is the reason why the grand old party’s nauseating dependence still continues unabated, it is also the burden underneath which he is gradually sinking. Despite over a decade of political training, Rahul’s public presentation of himself has been a colossal failure, and he has cast an image that falls far shorter than the man he made a villain out of, Narendra Modi. Rahul showed a tremendous callousness and casual lack of an intellectual grip of the past by comparing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots with 2002 Guajrat pogrom, when both episodes should draw equal shame in the annals of national history. His discomfiture with the reckless and corrupt segments of his own party and the UPA government has not yielded sweeping reforms: either within the party structure or in the priorities of the Centre, even though Rahul has made flashy disparagements of the policies and decisions of the union cabinet, be it in the case of the ordinance to stop criminal members of Parliament or legislative assemblies from being barred from contesting elections, or the number of subsidised gas cylinders a family is entitled to.

If the resounding defeats in the state polls are anything to go by, Rahul’s has been a negative effect on the party prospects. In this light, his insistence that he wants to change the system falls terribly short of substance and vision, as though he’s talking in the air, which he often is. Rahul’s disconnect from the needs and realities on the ground, his complete lack of understanding of how to enthuse his party cadres, leave alone the ordinary voter, his bypassing of the party decisions and presenting himself as a supra-Congress force, his definite and public disagreements with the party top brass, including his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi – have all backfired instead of catapulting him to the position of a charismatic leader of the grand old party in the country. Despite uttering the word system umpteen number of times in his shaky interview, what has been duly highlighted is his inordinate lack of comprehending how the system functions and how it can be revamped to suit the newer realities and make lives of the common man better. Hence even though his observation that BJP’s fallacy lies in concentrating absolute power in the hands of one person isn’t incorrect, it remains an inadequate critique in the absence of an alternative, at least from the Congress camp.
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