The news of Rahul Gandhi’s official elevation as president of the Congress party has a sense of déjà vu. He has been the de facto co-president of the party since 2007 when he took over as its general secretary. While pro- and anti-Modi voices may ridicule or admire the choice, is he, objectively speaking, prime ministerial material?
The Indian and global scenarios today are more complex than what they were during his father’s reign. New equations, alliances and issues have come up in the international arena while national security is threatened by Pakistan, China, widespread terrorist outfits and internal quislings in a complicated manner. Besides, Narendra Modi has given a huge momentum to India’s global relations in trade and politics and it would need a visionary and strategist to cash in on it. Gandhi has not shared his global vision nor does he appear to have the shrewd negotiation skills that India’s status demands from its PM to deal with foreign powers.
At the national level, it is Modi who has rebuilt the economy created by Manmohan Singh in 1991 by taking a number of out-of-the-box measures and by adapting Congress-conceived ideas to make them effective. Gandhi has been a vocal critic of all these measures but has offered no persuasive alternative strategy. He is making the same promises about farmers, youth, poverty and Dalits on the basis of which his party won two Lok Sabha elections and did little in this area.
Lastly, Modi has set in motion a leadership style that is energetic, forward-looking and compelling. He has a style of functioning that has no place for respite. This is what our vast nation, beset with numerous problems, needs. Will Gandhi match it? India waits for a leader who goes beyond the rhetoric of secularism and has a development–oriented agenda. The Congress-ruled states lack this and there is no sign as yet that Gandhi considers it crucial.
Y G Chouksey Pune
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