Stepping forward

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has given the clearest yet indication that he is ready to take up any responsibility that the party might give him.

The classical dilemma of the prince, in this case to be the prime ministerial candidate of the party or not, had been left open all these years. He has not definitively said what responsibility he expects to be conferred on by the party. But in the Congress scheme of things the nature of responsibility would also be decided by him and party president Sonia Gandhi. It is most likely that he would be declared the party’s candidate for the top post very soon. The decision perforce may be the result of circumstances that his party finds itself in the run-up to the elections.

The spectacular victory of the Aam Aadmi party in the Delhi elections and the emergence of Arvind Kejrival as a leader has put pressure on the Congress. The BJP had already declared Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as their prime ministerial candidate and he has been barnstorming tne country, drawing crowds. Both these leaders have articulated their personal positions and party policies. But Rahul Gandhi would join the fray without the nation getting a clear idea of what he stands for. In spite of spending many years as a centre of power, next only to his mother, and as a member of Parliament, he is still untested for administrative or political skills. Whenever he chose to make his interventions, as on the issue of corruption, he has been erratic, disruptive and  even ineffective. His promise of action on matters like the Adarsh scam were never properly followed up or fulfilled.

The problem is not just the personal credentials of Rahul Gandhi but also the dire straits the Congress finds itself in. The UPA government’s disastrous performance of governance has weakened both the party and the alliance that it heads. Neither the party nor its leaders carry much credibility with the people. Rahul might be the most acceptable choice of the party for the top position, caught as it is with the dynastic idea of leadership. But he is far away from being accepted by the country as a credible and effective leader who has solutions to its problems. It is unlikely that the weeks before the elections will produce an image of him which will goad the nation to put its trust in him and the party.

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