Rahul Gandhi as Congress president: No harm will be done, no line crossed, no leader will walk away

Rahul Gandhi may not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of leadership qualities, but you can't really hate him. There is nothing to hate. And thanks to the way the media has gone after him without gloves on, they have created a court jester-like character who invites jeering laughter.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Reuters file image

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Reuters file image

There is no real line between perception and reality, and for the most part, the media has flung some pretty nasty arrows at him. But ask even his worst detractors why they cannot stand him, or to preempt his initiatives and actions, and most would be hard-placed to elaborate with any genuine substance on why Rahul Gandhi is a hundred pound weakling in the political arena.

As Paul Eddington of Yes Minister fame so profoundly said, "I'd like to be known for someone who did very little harm." Rahul Gandhi, even if he does no real good, does not do very much harm either.

And to be perfectly clear, this is not an apology for him nor a clarion call to rally around the man. It's actually inspired by the theory that if he is made Congress president, everyone will walk out and ditch the party.

Seeing as how Rahul is the party leader even now, what great line will he be crossing if he does get anointed as party president? And who will walk away from the Congress? Manmohan Singh, Salman Khurshid, P Chidambaram, Sheila Dikshit, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor — who are these stalwarts who will be offended and where will they go? Sachin Pilot, Kapil Sibal, Scindia, Singhvi — nobody will actually go, because they know they can be replaced.

There is a whole new generation out there — the young, upwardly mobile and very concerned about the nibbling away of their fundamental rights. It does not sit well with this homogenous swathe of Indians to be told what to eat and drink, what to wear, how to think, what sexual orientation to accept and reject, and how to be religious.

Perhaps at this moment there is only a slight unsettling in the mind but the tectonic plates of the right to choose are scraping against each other and the Congress as a national entity could, with or without the Gandhis, become the first line of defence in creating a system of checks and balances.

It's all fine to talk about the protection of our values, but when it affects us directly and state laws are bent to accommodate personal political prejudices, and concepts of right and wrong and penalties follow, then the choking has begun.

There are several young men and women who are beginning to sense the discomfort with the rapidity of the movement to spray piety on India's mental harvest. They will seek new heroes.

At the state level, you can find a dozen Amarinder Singhs who will carry the banner without the escutcheon of the dynasty. And if, for a while, Rahul or Sonia or Priyanka are the life motif for this historical party, so what? Has Punjab suffered because of Rahul Gandhi? Not really. A whole new cadre of charismatic people are out there, men and women of substance who still believe that surrendering our rights in the name of governance is irreversible.

In months, Indians have been given a road map upon which to charter their course. Either do it this way or it is the wrong way. In this new order, a Rahul Gandhi can pull up his socks and actually come to the party and raise himself above his image  or stay on the sidelines, it won’t matter as irate members of the public find the constraints of fear and reprisals claustrophobic and rally around somebody Nostradamus missed out.

Updated Date: Apr 03, 2017 16:26 PM

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