He had ten long years to prepare for it, and yet Rahul Gandhi turned up grossly undercooked for the first television interview of his political career. Clearly, he had done some last minute mugging, memorising key words like RTI, youth, women and system, but for an interview that lasted almost 90 minutes bandying about those terms repeatedly could not earn him a pass grade.
Politics, like some examinations, is a cruel almost brutal past time. Rahul Gandhi was being honest and sincere when he said that he was not driven by a thirst for power. But in that single admission, he also revealed why he remains unfit to hold high office.
Forget Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi did not appear convincing enough to be a Cabinet Minister, except perhaps for Youth Affairs or Women’s Empowerment. To succeed in politics, like in any other profession, a person needs to be driven, have a fire in the belly, a keenness to learn, a desire to achieve, an ambition to rise to the top in rapid time. Rahul has none of those.
Perhaps more important than the fact that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t possess those qualities is the fact that he doesn’t perceive the need to try and acquire them. That is the curse of his inheritance. He is born to lead the Congress party. The thought that he may one day be deposed for non-performance would not have crossed his mind such is the servility of the party to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Thus assured of a permanent leadership position, win or lose makes little difference to Rahul. Even a huge political loss cannot ignite his fire.
Unlike most other politicians, Rahul Gandhi can afford to lose, just as he can afford to bumble through an interview. He can say that he will take full responsibility for the defeat of the Congress because there are no consequences for him — especially since he has no thirst for power. He is an anomaly. To be fair, Rahul said as much. Except that he seemed proud of it.
It is not a matter of pride. It is a matter of shame that India’s oldest political party has a leader (make no mistake, he is the boss) who is not interested in the rough and tough of politics and instead sees politics as a means to a slow discovery of himself (as a non-politician), quite unlike his great-grandfather for whom politics was about the discovery of India. The law of diminishing returns has set into the dynasty.
The only thing Rahul Gandhi seems passionate about is opening up his party and the political system from its insular state. But again, he doesn’t recognise the contradiction of his democratisation drive — if there is a monarch on top and several princes around him then what democracy is he talking about? Perhaps only at the level of the Panchayat.
Rahul would be taken seriously if he offered to abdicate his political inheritance and worked instead as an evangelist for political reform (and women’s empowerment and youth affairs and freedom of information) in India. He seems like a nice guy with limited talent and a famous name. He only needs to find the right profession.