Don't make fun of Rahul Gandhi's Italy trip: What was he doing here anyway?
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's dramatic announcement of his travel plans on Twitter has made him a subject of lampoon among his detractors. Many are making fun of the fact that this is just a repeat of previous instances when he has similarly left on trips in the middle of crucial political action. However, a critical question that emerges in this context is what was he doing here anyway that will be jeopardised in his absence?
Thirteen years after entering politics and four years after being elevated as vice-president of the party, he continues to appear reluctant to take the president-ship. His mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi continues to be in command in spite of health issues. All major decisions are authorised by her and she is the one who leads the party in crucial situations. The last major gathering of top Opposition leaders took place at a lunch hosted by her, and not her son.
Rahul Gandhi does appear to be influencing some organisational decisions, but those are mostly restricted to peripheral Congress organisations like Youth Congress and NSUI. The Congress Working Committee is still headed by his mother in her capacity as the party president. The only significant area in which he is making interventions is the appointment of chiefs of state units of the party.
His speeches rarely make enough waves for party-men to take inspiration from. He is often found fumbling incoherently, like his recent speech in Tamil Nadu in which he rambled on and on about how he loves Tamils, how he messaged his sister that he loved going to Tamil Nadu and that how he was watching Tamil movies to understand the state better.
Rahul Gandhi is hardly the inspirational figure that Congressmen are waiting for to be shaken out of the morass the party is stuck in. Indeed, many party workers as well as leaders admit off-record that he is the not the best person to lead the party but they have no other option as power in the Congress party rests in the Gandhi family. It is not a co-incidence that a district level Congress leader was exposed using the name “Pappu” for him.
Although the functionary, now suspended from the party, was only praising Rahul Gandhi's leadership, his use of the term indicates that even Congressmen look upon him as an immature kid, at best. Under his leadership, the Congress is failing to even convincingly demonstrate to the masses how BJP is fooling them with its claims of development.
A young Congress worker presently working on the party's social media campaign recently confided in this writer that he and his other colleagues found nothing inspiring in Rahul Gandhi. He recalled a specific instance when the Congress VP was supposed to address a large gathering of members of the party's social media cell. They were all looking forward to hear from him on how to counter saffron trolls on social media, he said, but were in for a major let-down when all that Gandhi told them was to ignore trolls.
The writing on the wall is pretty clear for the Congress to see. Rahul Gandhi is not a natural leader and his grooming has not been too successful either. It is time for the party to do what is considered unthinkable in Congress circles – allow honest orgaisational polls to take place and hope for these polls to throw up a face whom party workers admire and want as their leader. Rahul Gandhi cannot be the Congress's last bet.