What expectations would one have from a Member of Parliament whose mother is the president of one of the most influential parties in the country, whose father was a Prime minister, whose grand father was the first Prime Minster of the country and whose great grand father was a distinguished leader of the country’s independence movement? Expecting that he would weigh his words before making public statements is not too much to ask. His lineage predisposed him to a career of active politics but it is his communication skills that make him a favorite among the news writers. Each word he says creates ripples not only because of his lineage but also because he meticulously saws the branch on which he is sits.
Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of the party, member the Congress Working Committee, head of Youth Congress, National Students Union of India and member of the Congress party’s campaign committee gave his debut speech at the last AICC session. In his speech he made an appeal to the youth to join the Congress to realize their dreams and capabilities. He also added a word which describes the political history of Congress: Meritocratic. The 37-year-old politician while Addressing 3,000 All India Congress Committee delegates, said that the Congress party should be relevant to ‘a broad range of young Indians’ and become ‘meritocratic’ where progress is linked to performance and accountability. For someone who got to his position within the party on account of his lineage it perhaps was strident for his party men to hear him speak of “merit”, “performance” and “accountability”. While Rahul’s ‘merit and performance’ or the lack of them has been made clear many times since 2004 when he joined the politics but it is his emphasis on ”accountability” that directly questions Rahul’s party.
Applying the “Rahul Gandhi” maxim of progress linked to performance and accountability what would be the verdict Congress President Sonia Gandhi who oversaw the party lose every assembly election since 2004 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who’s Executive Delinquency for the last many months saw governance come to a standstill. The Sonia Gandhi spin machine always had the advantage of taking the moral high ground and painting her as the victim. From Sonia Gandhi’s act of abdicating responsibility and thrusting Manmohan Singh to the PMO everything she does gets projected as Sacrifice to the Office of Profit Issue the blame was always on the Government with the Congress shying away from taking responsibility. Rahul Gandhi’s Meritocratic position gives him the advantage of the same machinery which works in order to project him as the future leader but it is his habit of invoking the past to gain sympathy which makes his statements so quotable.During the Uttar Pradesh election campaign in 2007 he said that “if anyone from the Gandhi-Nehru family had been active in politics then, the Babri Masjid would not have fallen”. He was a prominent figure in a high profile Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections; Congress, however, won only 22 seats with 8.53% of votes Rahul was never held accountable.
Rahul is known for making catalytic statements on all issues from the Babari Masjid demolition to the partition of the country.By counting the 1971 break-up of Pakistan among his family’s “achievements” and boosting on the determination of his family he had once said” You know that when my family decides to do anything, it does it. Be it the freedom struggle, the division of Pakistan or taking India to the 21st century.” Well-known historian Irfan Habib remarked that the comments were “An insult to the Bangladeshmovement. Rahul is free to say whatever he wants to, but in a democratic country playing up family is certainly not in good taste.” It is this bad taste that would perhaps compel Rahul to consult before he makes another statement because the Meritocratic manner in which he has made it to the top would slip out of his hand if he continues to be the Don Quixote of Indian Politics.