Back to old school politics: the method in Rahul’s moves
Reviled for his hit-and-run brand of politics, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi seems to be coming of age. His padyatra is an effort at connecting to the masses in the way it matters.
Let’s give it to Rahul. Despite attracting sniggers from most quarters for those shoot and scoot gimmicky acts across all trouble spots in the country, he has been at it doggedly. He is the only leader of his stature in the entire political spectrum who is seen roughing it out in the dust bowls of the country and in far away hilly terrains. Read politics into it and ascribe motives but he is the only top politician who has been keen on interacting with the masses on a regular basis and working hard to win the goodwill of people.
While the GenNext of Indian politics — those 79 members in Parliament below 40 years in age — has been largely disinclined to connect with the people they represent, Rahul — he just turned 41 — has been visible in virtually all politically difficult territories. He is yet to be coherent on policy issues and maybe is too naive in his political utterances, but at least he looks sincere. The instant bonding he forges with farmers and the deprived sections is an indicator to the fact. Whether it translates into votes for his party is a different issue altogether.
His five-day Kisan Sandesh Yatra in Uttar Pradesh, which entered its second day today, is garnering all the attention. He is staying over at villages and taking food at the houses of the poor — the usual attention-grabbing exercises associated with him. For a change, nobody is calling it a political gimmick this time. There is a deliberateness in the Congress General Secretary’s efforts to touch base with people. It’s obvious that there’s a method to whatever he is doing.
This is old school politics at its best.
Walking 19 kilometres a day among people brings more political dividend than spending hours talking in the television studio. Rahul Gandhi has been careful about courting the media unlike most among the new generation politicians. If the Congress’s old guard, represented by Digvijaya Singh, has been busy shaping the political course for the Gandhi scion, it is showing. In a positive way.
We are in an era of lazy politicians, leaders who refuse to be part of or sensitive to the daily grind the commoners go through. If there’s a big disconnect between the leaders and the people they represent, it has to do with the casual approach to politics. Unfortunately, the degeneration has become a fact of life for all political parties, including the Congress, the BJP and the Left too. With no energy and enthusiasm at the top, the internal organisation of all parties have gone weak.
It’s obvious that Rahul has the UP assembly election of 2012 on his mind. That adds urgency to his efforts to reach out to people. On Tuesday, he made impromptu stops to interact with villagers. His padyatra will culminate at the Congress' Kisan Mahapanchayat at Aligarh on Saturday.
His march is interesting in some ways. The local party leaders have been kept away from the show. Rahul moves in villages with a small group of close aides and Youth Congress volunteers. His itinerary for the day is not clear to the people around him. He stops and restarts his padyatra as and when he feels so.
Rahul aims at providing a personal touch to his bonding with the masses. It’s something rare in today’s politics.
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