In a marketing campaign that should shame even the sharpest whiz kids, the injection of Rahul Gandhi into the national consciousness as the brave white hope is picking up steam. Appointed general secretary barely seven months ago, making a case for “meritocracy”, going on a tour to discover India, bumping into L.K. Advani in an airport lounge, plumping for the induction of youth in the cabinet, reading from a prepared text in the Lok Sabha, declining a ministerial berth… it’s all happening for the 37-year-old son, grandson and greatgrandson with India’s bestknown surname.
But Rahul Gandhi as prime minister? HRD minister Arjun Singh says Rahul baba has all the qualities of his late father Rajiv Gandhi to be prime minister. If a Congressman is expected to only say that, look at who else is piping in. Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi says he “will be happy if Rahul is made the prime ministerial candidate.” And even the mighty Sharad Pawar who once took on Sonia Gandhi‘s foreign origin says “it is the Congress’ prerogative to choose Rahul or Sonia” after saying just the week before that Manmohan Singh would be a good choice for the UPA.
Questions: Is Rahul Gandhi a potential prime minister? Does he have the parliamentary or administrative acumen or experience, or even the political record, for the job? Is our polity so completely devoid of tall figures with national reach? Are our geriatric politicians running out of ideas or are they preserving themselves by seeming to promote a fresh face? Does Rahul Gandhi stand a chance against L.K. Advani? And what does it say about our democracy that we should so easily fall back on the “dynasty”? Or is all fair in love, war and politics as long as you win?
Photograph: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta