Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rahul is the opposite of Modi. That’s his biggest strength….

It is said that Rahul Gandhi saved the Congress the blushes by scrapping the ordinance to save convicted fellow politicians. I still cannot understand why the Congress is singled out for this lucky break; the entire political class including the BJP had supported the ordinance and the related Bill. While most people have been saying that RG did the right thing, they are also saying that he should have intervened earlier; that he embarrassed the PM etc. There is certainly some truth in this. This situation could have been avoided if he had been a part of the core group that took the call in the first place. Given his inherent opposite polarity to Narendra Modi, now is the time for him to do so….

Does Rahul have it in him to lead his party? To answer that, we must ask what it takes to lead a party. In my mind, the following. And RG is qualified in all respects:

1)    A vision: RG’s vision is the same as the Congress’s. Terms like “inclusive growth”, “secularism” and “social liberalism” describe this vision. It is this vision that will save India from social strife. And stop it from being divided into small pieces. It will make sure that we don’t have the richest people in the world and also the poorest. It is this vision that will distribute income and raise living standards far faster than the trickle down effect ever will. If this is what Amartya Sen believes in, so it is.
2)    Leadership/charisma: What is leadership or charisma? A charismatic leader leads a team towards achieving the vision. He/she helps develop the plan, motivates the cadres, forms the teams, takes blows on the chin when the chips are down and provides a moral compass during the whole exercise. He unites the whole team; not divides it. He is interested in the results, not in hogging the glory nor grabbing the trappings of power. And all this is true in RG’s case. He has a plan and we’ve seen that in the Land Acquisition bill, MNREGA and FSB, his support for FDI in retail which will benefit the farmers amongst others, his demand for the Lokpal to be made a constitutional authority, and now his latest stand on the ordinance. He has the courage to take blows on his chin, as we saw when he failed to win big in the recent UP assembly polls but didn’t run away or blame others. He doesn’t crave for power; in fact he calls it poison. This has his opponets flummoxed. Why does this person not want power? He can have all that he wants! Why does he say he doesn’t want to PM, a statement which make all others insist that he must become one, unlike his opponent who cannot stop making his deep desire known to everyone?!
3)    He is the exact opposite of Narendra Modi: This is his biggest strength. Rahul goes to villages to meet people. Modi goes to the big towns. Rahul shuns TV cameras; Modi goes only where the cameras are there. Rahul is mild mannered and never attacks anybody. Modi is brash and foul mouthed. Rahul goes even where the terrain is tough, knowing he could lose; Modi refused to go to Karnataka where his party was in the doldrums. Rahul unites his party; Modi just divided it (forget the sham show of unity!) trampling 4 of the top 5 leaders (Advani, Swaraj, Yashwant Sinha and Murli Manohar Joshi). Rahul appeals to Bharat and India; Modi largely the latter. Rahul never lies (remember his statement on the Punjab drug problem; now proven correct). Modi is branded #feku. But most importantly, Rahul is secular; Modi a Hindu fanatic.

The last point is the most endearing thing about Rahul. In him, people see someone who is interested in uniting society. “Unity in diversity” is something we’ve been taught in schools. This is where Rahul delivers a body blow to Modi. Maybe because Modi hasn’t lived outside Gujarat, he doesn’t know. But Indians are very happy living together as a heterogeneous bunch. Hindus don’t want this nation for themselves. Gandhiji knew that. That is why he didn’t want the country divided. And even when it had to be, he was sure he wanted the rest of it to remain united.

Rahul Gandhi may not want the trappings of power, but that is no reason to stay out of his party’s core group. His presence there will help make the body more productive; take the right decisions. His youth will help the Grand Old Party stay in touch with the restless youngsters. His morality will keep the devious and the debauched out.

And RG must also speak more. He must become more available to media. He must express his views on issues that matter to the people. He has the right instincts. And he needs to communicate those. By staying in the shadows, the leader becomes invisible to his supporters. Some of them get misled. Just letting them know he is there will enthuse them. More than anytime else, it is now that his party workers need to see him more.

The real truth is that Rahul Gandhi is the exact opposite of Narendra Modi. For the first time today, the country has the option to choose from two diametrically opposite personalities. Those who want a Hindu nation will vote for Modi. But those who want a multi-cultural India will vote for Rahul…..

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