After years of indecision and/or coyness in expressing political ambitions, Rahul Gandhi has finally bared his prime ministerial ambitions. By consequence, he gave voice to what thousands of Congress workers and leaders believe: that a member of Gandhi-Nehru dynasty is born to become the Prime Minister of India and nothing less.
It is important to note that he spoke of his readiness to be prime minister of the country in 2019 in the thick of electioneering in Karnataka, where ruling Congress is locked in a tough fight with the BJP and JD(S) to reclaim power for a consecutive five-year term.
Now consider why Rahul thinks that Narendra Modi will not return to power and he (Rahul) will be the obvious alternative. It is not because he revamped the organisational structure of Congress party in a way that it would vanquish the BJP, nor is it because Rahul thinks he has managed to shift the popular mood in favour of himself through his visits to temples, mutts, mosques and through his public rallies. As Congress president suggested, he could make the prediction as he has acquired a new skill: he can read faces and, perhaps, predict one's future.
Rahul said this at his party's closed-group program 'Samruddha Bharat Foundation' held in Karnataka. "I am pretty convinced that Mr Modi is not going to be prime minister (again). I can see that on his face. He knows that," Rahul prophesied.
To a pointed query from a party worker asking if he would be the prime minister, Rahul said, "Well that depends how well Congress party does." Then to a supplementary question on his prospects in an alliance situation, Rahul said "I mean if the Congress is the biggest party then yes, why not."
One is not sure what Rahul meant when he said "…..if the Congress is biggest party." Whether he meant that he is ready to take the mantle if Congress emerges as the single largest party in the 2019 elections, or he was pointing to a scenario when his party gets the most seats in UPA coalition (provided NDA fails to win a majority) is unclear. In last parliamentary elections, Congress was the second biggest party, and the largest in UPA, but the gap between BJP and Congress in Lok Sabha was huge. It was 44 vs a whopping 282.
It is ironical here that a person, who after reading the prime minister's face knows that Modi will not get the top job a second time, is pitching himself for the prime ministerial post with so many riders. He is not aiming high. He is only aspiring to be the biggest party from within the rank of current Opposition, and not a full majority like what Modi fought to get in the run up to 2014 elections.
Moreoer, it should worry Congress that soon after Rahul pitched himself as an alternate to Modi, one of the party's allies NCP was quick to question the premature announcement. Another prospective ally TRS had its own set of questions over Rahul's competence. Recently, Mamata Banerjee whose current strength in Lok Sabha (34) is only slightly less than Congress, had expressed her reservation in accepting Rahul as the leader of anti-BJP coalition.
Moreover, Rahul himself seemed to be gripped by self doubts even as claimed that he could be the next Prime Minister. Only few days ago, he appeared much more convinced when he had claimed at a public rally that Congress party will win Karnataka on 15 May, and follow it up with consecutive wins in Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Rajasthan Assembly elections, finally topping it up with parliamentary elections in 2019. But today while talking to Congress workers in a closed hall, he appeared tentative about the future prospects of his party.
This is the case when Congress president himself predicted that Modi will lose the election in his own Varanasi parliamentary seat and the BJP would not get more than five seats in UP (as against 73 in the last elections).
What was interesting that Rahul told the audience comprising his party workers and sympathisers that he wanted to see at least ten women chief ministers in the country from the Congress in the next ten years, when in Karnataka, out of 244 constituencies his party has fielded women only on 15 seats.
As for his optimism to have at least 10 women chief ministers, the Congress president might do well to remember that Sheila Dikhit in Delhi (a Union Territory not a state) was the only woman chief minister in decades and the number of states Congress rules is currently down to three, which includes the poll-bound Karnataka.
Updated Date: May 08, 2018 21:09 PM