Intro: Rahul Gandhi’s sabbatical ahead of Budget session raises vital questions.
Rahul Gandhi is undoubtedly the ‘whimsical newsmaker’ of this nation. Amidst buzzes related to his whereabouts and reason for his so called ‘sabbatical’ from the party, the nation every day is waking up to one or the other news revealing his secret destination and activities. One news channel recently claimed that he is in Uttarakhand; while the other shared that he is doing ‘vipassana’ in Thailand. He and his so called sabbatical have undoubtedly gained the desired popularity, but at what cost?
The charming prince of the 130 years old party, which has enjoyed the ultimate power in the largest democracy for the longest period of time, is lost somewhere. Being the vice-president of All India Congress Committee (AICC), Rahul Gandhi’s presence was critical during the budget session. But his absence is axiomatic. What does it symbolise? Absence of a powerful opposition, decline of the oldest political party of this nation to the extent of becoming extinct, lack of leadership in the party, and a threat to the democratic fabric of this nation, all significant enough to pay attention to.
Congress party is facing a challenge to its existence, needless to say. One after the other, all its dominos are falling. After its poorest show in the Assembly elections in Delhi, Rahul must have felt crestfallen. After all, he planned and spent a good time in making people believe that his whole and sole motto of life is to remove poverty from this country (which I believe was the motto of his father, grandmother and great grandfather too; however this poor nation seems to love to remain poor). But despite all his efforts, the country has rejected him and his party badly.
Certainly a ‘dejected’ Rahul must have done a thorough analysis. Many news reports and articles claim that Rahul is extremely unhappy with the senior leaders, who are basically his mother’s trustworthy. Eying 2019 general elections, he wants the party to be refurbished, with new talent and new approach. He wants his mom’s people to pack off their bags and wants his zealous young brigade to take over. If the team can be changed on this ground, I think the leadership can be changed too. After all, for how long will Congress be standing under the shadow of Maino-Gandhi family? And most of all, why is it running from the grounds? I mean how it can it afford to be with the face which is known for its absence not only at significant times and occasions, but also from the Parliament. Congress still has experienced leaders who can take over the significant role of the leader of opposition, which is a need of the hour. Missing this, Congress will certainly have to face the brunt of becoming non-existent as regional parties are doing better on the other side, which cannot be considered as a good sign for our democracy.
A national party is required to work as a strong opposition and Congress needs to understand the same. But, the party and its leaders still vouch by the Gandhis. The recent organisational shuffle is a proof of same. Ahead of the AICC session in April, the party replaced its five state Congress presidents, and more changes in leadership are expected in coming days, to make the prince happy. Various news sources are also indicating towards the announcement of Rahul’s name as the new party president in AICC’s April meet. The change in state leadership is said to be associated with the same as all new state presidents are believed to be Rahul’s aids. But not all leaders seem to be happy with current happenings. They have started getting vocal about their viewpoints.
Take for example, Rahul’s closest confederate and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh has recently shown his disappointment over Rahul’s sabbatical just prior to the Union Budget.
Despite extending the date to 28th February, the party’s state headquarters has received only about 1.63 lakh filled membership forms so far.This country along with its people needs a strong and visionary leader and party of opposition and so Congress needs an overhauling change, not only to be astrong opposition, but to save its very existence as well. It can hence choose to give a sabbatical to Rahul Gandhi forever.
Anshu Joshi (The writer is a doctorate from JNU, New Delhi and a political analyst)