Rahul Gandhi may still become the prime minister because there is no one in the Congress with pan-Indian appeal who can be a challenger. But, the chances of him making a dramatic impact on the Indian scene are remote. He has refused to take responsibility in the government to show case his calibre hence he remains unknown commodity to the nation. It is noteworthy that after Nehru, the only ideological direction to the polity was given by someone who was not a member of the dynasty. Moreover, Narasimha Rao’s achievement was that he turned away from the Nehruvian preoccupation with a ‘socialistic pattern of society’, as a Congress resolution of 1955 stated. For the last two decades, however, it is Rao’s direction which the country has been following, rejecting in the process the other Nehruvian concept of non-alignment. What is worrying, however, is that Rahul may seek to reinvent the socialistic wheel. But, even more bothersome is the fact that there is no certainty about his intentions because he has maintained a deafening silence about his ideological convictions. It is odd that although he can become the prime minister in three years, no one knows what he stands for. Is he for the free market or controlled economy? Does he support the quota system? What are his views on the banning of books by the Delhi and Mumbai universities? Related to these questions are more troublesome ones. Is his silence due to a disinclination to get into a firefight or is it because he does not have any views at all?
In Sonia’s case, it isn’t personal ambition – because of warnings from her ‘inner voice’ – so much as to permanently install the dynasty on the throne. The objective itself may not be ignoble, but some of the means she seems to prefer undoubtedly are. What is more, they are based on outdated social and economic ideas that can harm the country. Her preference, for instance, for a caste census eight decades after it was abandoned was driven by the desire to mobilise the backward castes in the Congress’s favour, which carries the disturbing possibility of perpetuating the quota system with the added danger of extending it to the private sector.
This fervor for ‘social justice’ is not the only route to economic ruin and social discord. Even more unnerving is the possible revival of a controlled economy with its emphasis on welfare measures based on high taxes. Unless Rahul dissociates himself from these regressive ideas, the great Indian middle class may reject him. But to his credit, he has consumed absolute power with dignity. A bunch lot of small time politicians with insignificant base have acted violently in public life to show case strength but Rahul has always remained dignified. He could have grabbed prominent seat earlier at his selected time but he opted to learn the art of polity. Rahul Gandhi remains unsolved puzzle for many of us in India and unless he opens up with media for greater scrutiny, the reality about him will elude the nation.
– Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief