So the Congress Party will not name its candidate for the Prime Ministership of India should the UPA again win the elections to be held in a couple of months. The excuse given is that naming a candidate is not in the party’s tradition. It is the lamest of lame excuses. The truth, however, is different. The UPA is not at all sure it will win. There is dissidence within the party and there is within the alliance.
The lessons from the 2012 U.P. State election and the more recent Assembly elections in four states which Rahul disasterously led from up front are there for all to see. If Rahul is now named and the UPA loses heavily, the damage to his reputation will be hard to control. So it is wise to wait and see and pretend that the party is following old traditions.
The belief is that if the party loses, the hurt to Rahul would be manageable. If the party wins, his choice as Prime Minister would be considered pre-ordained. Sonia Gandhi wants it to be a win-win situation. What everybody knows and nobody is willing to speak out is that there is no one within the party who can challenge Rahul. Poor Union Minister for Home Sushil Kumar Shinde sought to name Sharad Pawar as a possible candidate but he must have been sharply pulled up because he was quick to withdraw his suggestion. Pawar himself has made it clear that he is not in the race and will take the Rajya Sabha route to the Parliament. Dr Manmohan Singh himself has made it clear that he has had enough. And in any event were he to be named a candidate the party which he heads would undoubtedly be washed out.
One expected a better performance from Rahul at the January 17, meeting of the All India Congress Committee. It was a miserable performance. His 45-minute address was more a cry to rouse a demoralised cader than an exercise in meaningful leadership. The strong language Rahul used has only become the laughing stock in political circles. To say that he is ready to do whatever the Party wants is pathetic.
A leader leads; he doesn’t wait for direction from the masses. It is apparent that he is trying to outdo the AAP with its pretence to listening to the masses. Sure, democracy is not rule by dictats, nor is it rule by one man. He should have told that to his mother who has been ruling in the past decade with her dictat, with no one daring to challenge her. In that she was only following her mother-in-law.
What Rahul is obviously trying to do is to ape the AAP in it ways. It wouldn’t work. With some 10 crore new voters – all young – now enlisted and with the AAP round to entice them, it is not the BJP that will get hurt, it is the Congress.
The BJP knows that it will win but it is not going around beating the drums. Wisely, LK Advani has asked it to be more sedate and that is what Narendra Modi is doing which is bringing him high praise from even a critical media. Modi is coming through as a statesman with a clear vision. His line of thinking is winning him support, if some of the latest editorials comments in the media are indications.
Even US officials are now beginning to see the light. According to the media, Teresta Schaffer, a former State Department mandarin and a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institute has suggested that “while it is too early to forecast the outcome of the 2014 polls, the US cannot afford to continue restricting its contacts with a politicians of Modi’s importance”.
The truth is that Modi has no real opponents. He has everything that he expects from and of a Prime Minister. He has won three State elections with comfortable majorities. More importantly he has emotional strength which he has shown in the last two decades. He has taken on his critics and in some way has even won them over. The more the Mani Shankar Aiyars seek to demean him, the higher he rises in public estimation.
Rahul thinks the BJP doesn’t read history books. According to him, the Congress is in peoples’ hearts because its vision is of brotherhood, love and honour. Rahul probably himself doesn’t read history. If he did he would have remembered what happened to the people during the Emergency. As matters stand the Congress is already playing on a losing wicket. It has to face dissidence in three major states, namely, Andhar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala. The BJP, on the other hand, is improving its strength as in Karnataka where, with the induction of YS Yediyurappa within the party, its chances of winning a majority have been greatly strengthened. All the utterances of Congress leaders, from Sonia Gandhi downwards make them sound that they are defensive. In contrast, as even the media has noted, Modi is coming out with a “rainbow strategy” of strengthening cultural and familial values, agricultural and rural development, environmental protection, youth power, democracy and knowledge and skill development. And the entire country knows that Modi is speaking with authority. The reality is that even if the Congress can speak of some achievements, few remember them.
As Shakespeare said: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones”. What is true of individuals is also true of parties.