Rahul Gandhi needs more time to mature, says Sheila Dikshit; Congress may be dead before he is ready

Rahul (Gandhi) needs more time to mature, says former Delhi chief minister leader Sheila Dikshit. How much more time? Every Congress member must ask.

"Please remember, Rahul is still not mature, his age does not allow him to be mature. He is what...in his forties. Please give him time...," she said in an interview with The Times of India.

From the way she approaches the question it appears the Congress has loads of time on its hands. It can wait for an indefinite period for the party vice-president to mature as a political leader. The only problem, however, is by the time he is ready the party would have disintegrated. In any case, Rahul is above 45 years of age by now. By this age most professionals are into leadership roles after proving themselves in different capacities down the rung.

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul Gandhi. File photo. PTI

As the Maharashtra civic body election results reveal, the party is on the sick bed in one more state. There's little hope of revival given the poor record of the Congress at springing back into reckoning after losing power in any part of the country. With only 44 seats in Lok Sabha, 19 percent of vote share across the country and no government in politically critical states, the party is sick indeed. In states like Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, it is reduced to playing second fiddle to regional satraps.

The decline of the party is not a recent development though. It began in the early 1990s when the twin issues of Mandal and Masjid reshaped the political landscape of the country. The developments in that period led to the emergence of powerful regional satraps at the cost of the Congress; and the BJP began its gradual ascent to power. The party was slow to read the writing on the wall and take corrective steps to check the slide. It was expected that after the shock of 2014, it would get seriously into damage control mode.

There's still no sign of that even as it keeps getting weaker in state after state. What's the party waiting for? For Rahul to mature? The fact is, even if Rahul is mature enough he cannot do much to halt the disintegration of the party at the ground level. The rot has gone too deep. The organisation has all but collapsed at the lowest rungs. There are just too many factions and too few leaders capable of connecting with the masses. Parties are destined to die when they lose touch with the masses. Even at the higher rungs there are too many leaders with little utility value but with a lot of nuisance potential, for the party that is.

Ever wondered why they cannot decide when to elevate the Congress vice-president as president? It cannot be a reason that he is immature. He is apparently taking all the major calls in his current position. But still the party won't give him full responsibility despite knowing that he is fait accompli; it has to sink or swim with him. It is said the old guard close to Sonia Gandhi doesn't want him to take over and deliver a shock. Some others say the elevation would happen after clear proof of leadership quality in him. He has to win some states first. It's funny indeed.

Now, how long can they wait? Any victory in any state would be a fluke, given its strength on the ground. By the time he matures, some other political party would have moved into the space left vacant by the Congress. The AAP has done it in Delhi and Punjab already. It might expand into new states soon. The BJP, of course, has moved into the pole position and the Congress is far less than its equal.

The Congress is living in a fool's paradise. Somebody must remind it.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Feb 24, 2017 17:00:41 IST

Also See