Rahul Emerges Steadily
New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has improved his performance as a politician over the weeks giving a ray of hope to those who believe that the country would be safe only if the Grand Old Party survives the transition. There were widespread apprehensions that the BJP would have a no- holds-barred Rathayatra in power with the Congress party remaining uninspiring and leaderless. Many had almost written off Rahul Gandhi as a leader with any mettle. They were routing for his sister Priyanka to take over the reins of the party. Priyanka was considered a better bet since she resembles Indira Gandhi and is a better communicator than her brother.
Rahul embarked on a tour of Uttar Pradesh in which he traveled extensively and had a dialogue with the farmer. Though he was heckled by the ruling BJP, he continued with the initiative and completed the tour with remarkable commitment. This has sent the right signal to the people that the reluctant politician in the first family of the Congress has started taking his job seriously.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given, though unwittingly, Rahul a great opportunity by announcing the shocking decision of demonetisation. With Sonia keeping indifferent health, Rahul had to preside over the meeting of the Congress Working Committee. He took the plunge and kept himself in the forefront of the agitation against the bold but botched move of demonetisation. What is the encouragement given by the elections and social media expert Prashant Kishore, who is advising the Congress party at present, to Rahul is in the realm of imagination but the young Gandhi has been punching the Modi windbag with powerful dialogues delivered with a rare clarity. His repeated threat to expose the prime minister with the revelations about personal corruption may not be carried out at all. But it had its effect and caught the imagination of the people. This tactics brought Modi a little down from his high moral pedestal. Rahul followed Kejriwal in dubbing the demonetisation move as a total flop show that was launched without any preparation and planning. With the popular graph of Modi going down Rahul Gandhi’s has been going up moderately. The Congress rank and file appeared to have been enthused.
Rahul and Congress President Sonia Gandhi crafted a rare unity among the opposition Parties against the NDA government in parliament during the ruckus on the decision of demonetisation. Though Rahul did not make his promised earthquaking expose in parliament he was very active outside the temple of democracy.
Arvind Kejriwal has the guile, wit and courage to take on the prime minister but he cannot be an alternative to Modi since his party is not yet pan-Indian. He has future and his rise depends on the fall of the Congress. Another leader who could be considered as an alternative to the Modi is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. But he appears to have squandered his chances by delinking from his coalition partners- the RJD and the Congress-when he unilaterally declared support to the demonetisation move. He was careful enough to limit his support to fifty days, the time sought by Modi to bring about normality in the circulation of currency in the market. However, he is unlikely to retrieve the lost ground. Although Rahul had committed a blunder in disrupting the opposition unity by meeting Modi along with his party colleagues without prior intimation to the comrades in the opposition, the alliance built during the winter session of the parliament was bound to be disrupted because of the internal contradictions. One cannot expect Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party to coexist in the same alliance while bitterly fighting in the Assembly elections in UP. The only option before the congress is to regain the traction and emerge as a single largest party in 2019 elections to form UPA-III. This again depends on the speed with which Modi scripts his downfall, if at all.