Bharat Jodo Yatra has attracted lot of people all over India. It certainly proves some points in favour of Rahul Gandhi. He has come out as fit person because he can walk, an approachable person who can be spoken to, someone who gives lot of comfort to ladies, kids, old people. People have watched for the first time in 75 years, a scion of Nehru – Gandhi family walking on the roads and they are really amused if not surprised. Some of them blame Modi also, most of them in a sarcastic way. Lot of people who have walked along with find him very affectionate. All these visuals provide very good media publicity. Good photos attract everyone. He is getting that attraction. Who are accompanying him? Not only Congress supporters who were disillusioned with Congress leadership and his reluctance to accept responsibility with lack of consistency is his political conduct but major chunk comes from all those who are Modi baiters across all opposition parties and that makes the crowd with him quite impressive in numbers.
Politicians like Kanhaiya, Jignesh Mewani, or even Andolan Jeevi like Yogendra Yadav, Prasant Bhushan can be seen in any agitation. This Yatra is no exception.
How do people who are neither his supporters nor baiters look at the entire scenario because these are the people who decide the fate of any political leader.
What they are looking at?
Let us recall what Barack Obama has to say about Rahul Gandhi.
Mr. Obama says he has “a nervous, unformed quality about him, as if he were a student who’d done the coursework and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject,” according to The New York Times review.
Now, have a look on the Rahul Gandhi interaction with Raghuram Rajan, former RBI governor on economic issues and any one will find him absolutely nervous about the economic issues. Does he look or sound confident? Now, every PM is not required to be economist like Man Mohan Singh so what does Rahul want to prove and to whom? He wants to prove to himself first. He is still “unformed” and that is what Obama said about him.
His interaction with some of the Army Veterans is again a case in point. His statement on border situation with China, Chinese getting ready for attack on India and Indian govt sleeping and ignoring this threat carries no traction with any one even when threat is real, no body is going to believe that govt is sleeping over that threat. All these military veterans are too smart to know about our weapon acquisition, preparations and infrastructure development. It’s no brainer that 1962 was a total political failure on the part of Nehru and Indian Army will not forget that disaster so easily.
Let us look at the social factors which are responsible for Congress downfall. Emergence of regional parties and leaders based on caste politics is one important factor but more than that appeasement politics of Congress is another one. Muslims never wanted appeasement but they wanted to be treated equally like any other citizen of India. Congress should have followed that approach after 1947 when India was divided based on religious lines.
What Congress did everywhere? They found an easy way out specially in case of Muslims. They appeased Ashraf and wanted them to sway Muslim votes of majority Pasmandas towards them. It happened for so many years and Congress won elections comfortably. However, at grass root level, it resulted into a different sort of behaviour by Muslims, they did not go for education because Ashraf and Congress never guided them properly but more than that, an organised social behaviour was noticed which reflected in terms of love jihad, aggressive social conduct, criminal politics, encroachment of government land etc. Political conduct of Congress involved either denial, covering it up or providing institutional support to legitimize it. Congress found itself side lined by majority Hindu community. Now, this is the reason why you see Rahul Gandhi declaring himself Brahman, wearing Juneau (sacred thread), visit temples …. on increasing scales and numbers but will this supposedly course correction helps him or Congress party is very doubtful. Reason is simple. This silent observer group has moved ahead of semantics.
Nothing is going to help Congress party if Haldwani encroachers are covered up by Congress lawyers and their illegal activities are legalised. This is a classic case or Congress politicians patronising encroachers on government land with govt institutions looking other way. Here comes the real competition with regional parties in West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Telangana, Tamil Nadu who are out to appease the Muslim vote bank in short term even at their loss in long run. This majority Muslim community has nothing to do with issues like Ram Mandir in Ajodhya or Gyanvapi in Banaras or Krishna Jan Bhoomi in Mathura but will Rahul Gandhi dare to speak on these issues?
Merely saying that he sees lot of love in the country but if this love is not reflected in terms of social behaviour, it carries no value. Is there a single Muslim in this country who does not know that all these places are Hindu religious places originally? Pashmandas or the majority Muslims of India have no connection with any Muslim rulers nor they wish to justify them but problem is who is guiding them on the right lines?
The real challenge to Rahul Gandhi leadership comes here and on issues like this and not on the road where he is trying to win the popularity contest without getting into real issues.
That brings us to real national leadership issues? Complex issues like farm laws, banking reforms, Judicial reforms, Disinvestment in PSU, old versus new pension scheme, some of the implementable solutions are highly unpalatable to some segments of society but beneficial to India in medium to long run. These issues need careful thinking and understanding before execution. One has to forego political benefit in certain cases. Can Rahul Gandhi do any positive thinking on these issues? More than that, is he in a position to understand these complex issues and take the decisions ahead of political expediency? His statements on revocation of Article 370 or bringing old pension scheme do not justify any confidence in his leadership. Montek Singh Ahluwalia has commented that revival of old pension scheme is a recipe for bankruptcy but Rajasthan govt and now Himachal govt is bringing these schemes back. AAP in Punjab will also do that. So, what we look for when we look at Rahul Gandhi as a leader and what we get in return? Certainly not a leader who can take India ahead in its vision of being a super power.
Let him continue to be on the road.
That brings me to a story as talked about in a famous village – Baoli in Western UP, this village is very close to Baraut in District Baghpat, UP. As the story goes, in a hot afternoon, one walker on the road lost the way so he asked the villager “where this road is going?” The villager replied “This road will stay where ever it is, it is not going any where but where do you wish to go?”
Question is where Rahul Gandhi wishes to go? Right now, it looks to me that he is going to NOWHERE.
Leadership is a complex issue. Rahul Gandhi must be realising now. Only time will tell if he is already late. Indians will decide that in their own wisdom.