Something rings very hollow about all the enthusiasm emanating from Congress ranks regarding the crowning (well, what else is it?) of Rahul Gandhi.
Congress has never tried to hide its disdain for the democratic process. And with each glowing endorsement for the 42-year-old ‘youth icon’ that comes from Congressis old and relatively young, this point is emphasised.
After all, what is it that the Congress is saying about itself by making someone as inexperienced and ineffective as Rahul Gandhi its vice president?
The question that puts everything in perspective is this — What if Rahul had not been Sonia Gandhi’s son? What if he had not been Jawaharlal Nehru’s great-grandson?
No matter how the Congress chooses to answer these questions, it comes out looking like a party with no regard for competence and ability. Never mind how ‘sentimental’ Rahul Gandhi’s speech was or how much promise Congress veterans see in him, the decision to make Sonia Gandhi’s son ‘Number Two’ indicates strategic and moral bankruptcy on part of a political organisation that claims to represent the world’s largest democracy.
If the Congress answers that yes, any Congress worker with Rahul Gandhi’s level of experience would indeed have been considered for the post of party vice president, then it becomes clear that they don’t think much of the idea of merit. Ordinarily, in any organisation that cares about its future, capable and deserving people would rise to the top. The Congress however, seems to have no worries on this front.
If the Congress answers that no, any party worker with Rahul’s level of experience and talent will not have been made party vice president, then it admits that the Nehru-Gandhi scion gets special treatment and that such preferential treatment is more than an average Congressi can hope for. The Congress, in effect, will be admitting to something we already know — that it can’t exist independently of the Dynasty.
Rahul Gandhi’s emotional speech after he was annointed Congress vice president contained nothing new by way of policy except for vague calls for ‘badlaav’. There were frequent allusions to his family and one particularly saccharine mention of a crying mother who knows that ‘power is poison’ (reluctant sacrificing hero stereotype anyone?), but at the end of the day the whole exercise turned out to be little more than a family-fest. Not that anyone was expecting it to be anything else.
There will be no ‘badlaav’ in Congress. There can’t be. Not unless Congressis can imagine standing on their own without holding on to the apron strings of the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty for support, inspiration, and purpose.
(This was originally published in Niti Central on January 23, 2013)