Khurshid on Rahul: The No 2 is not acting like No 2

In a controversial interview, Law Minister Salman Khurshid seems to suggest that the wait for Rahul Gandhi to show leadership is likely to be a long one

R Jagannathan July 10, 2012 10:56:51 IST
Khurshid on Rahul: The No 2 is not acting like No 2

One wonders if Salman Khurshid will have endeared himself to the first family or his party after his sudden attack of loquaciousness on Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh’s government and the Congress party.

He said all the politically correct things, but only in parenthesis. The thesis went something like this: the Future Emperor has no clothes or vision or will to power; the policy paralysis can be traced back to the Empress’ inability or unwillingness to set the political stage right; the Regent, Manmohan Singh, cannot move on any front – economy, political reforms or even administrative action – due to this political paralysis at the top.

Not in so many words, but pretty close.

Waiting for direction from the party’s No 1 and No 2 is like waiting for Godot, with the Crown Prince willing to act only in fits and starts, but without any overarching vision guiding action. In an interview to The Indian Express, the Law Minister had this to say about Rahul Gandhi. “Until now, we have only seen cameos of his thought and ideas like democratising elections to the Youth Congress. But he has not weaved all of this into a grand announcement. This is a period of waiting.”

Khurshid on Rahul The No 2 is not acting like No 2

But despite his best efforts, Khurshid’s disappointment with Rahul Gandhi shows through. AFP

But just in case you think of this as veiled criticism, Khurshid makes it clear that Rahul is “our next generation leader” and “unquestionably the No 2 leader in the party.” But despite his best efforts, Khurshid’s disappointment with Rahul Gandhi shows through.

In fact, since this statement is coming from Khurshid, it is political dynamite. For he goes on to suggest that Rahul seems unwilling to accept the responsibility that comes with being No 2 in the party. He says: “…he (Rahul) has not taken up the mantle or accepted a functional responsibility. He is so far not willing to accept the No 2 position. In such a situation, we have to wait. This is a waiting time.”

There is frustration written into every word of this statement. Reading between the lines, Khurshid clearly thinks the direction that needs to come from Rahul is missing. “We need a new ideology to meet contemporary challenges… an ideology to be given by our next generation leader Rahul Gandhi…We have to be clear about what we want to go ahead with in the next elections.”

Is he trying to tell us that if Rahul wants to be PM, he must come up with his ideas now to set the party’s political course.

But the Law Minister’s subterranean points may also leave Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh squirming and scalded. He is almost dismissive of the UPA government’s ability to govern in the absence of Sonia’s delay in setting the political stage.

The PM, on whom the whole country has invested hopes of pulling us out of the economic morass, “cannot set the stage,” only Sonia can. Only if Sonia sets the stage can Manmohan run the government, says Khurshid.

In what can only embarrass the Prime Minister, Khurshid confirms what the government has been busy denying: that economic reforms have slowed down. But not only economic reforms. Political and administrative reforms have also hit roadblocks due to the party leadership’s inability to set the political agenda and merely being reactive to events.

Khurshid is clear that “the stage has to be set up again" by Sonia since "She is the one who has the stature. The Prime Minister can then run the government…”.

So what happens till she sets the stage? It will continue to be a “scattered situation”.  “In UPA-2, governance and politics have all got intermingled. The political props have got mixed up.”

In one interview, Khurshid appears to have set at nought all the party spokespersons' efforts to paint a picture of coherent governance.

(Read the full Express interview here)

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