There has been a lot of talk regarding the new version of the Indian National Congress’s national president Mr Rahul Gandhi. A lot of the people have made fun of his goof-ups over the last couple of years, however, it is time that we must accept that the rightful heir has returned.
When it comes to tolerance, the Congress has an excellent record of using every law possible to ensure that only the voices that are comfortable to them are tolerated. Be it India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi, members of the family are known to ensure that free speech is only free for those who are on good terms with the family. Rahul Gandhi has over the last couple of months demonstrated that at the end of the day, he is the rightful heir to the legacy of the family and to be more specific, to the legacy of Emergency.
One would mistakenly ignore the similarities between Rahul Gandhi and Indira Gandhi if he just goes by what Rahul Gandhi states in his public interactions. We all have seen how senior leaders literally suggest potential statements that are to be made by him in the media but that’s because somewhere the Congress wants to hide the true picture. Beneath all the “Pyaar Ki Rajneeti” is a tyrant in the making who believes that he is India and India is him- as if it was his destiny to be seated at the topmost seat of power. To be fair to him, it is not his fault because the Congress has never really had a Non-Gandhi president to serve for 5 years and this inability to groom leaders has resulted in the family becomes the centre of power within the Congress while everyone around the family has become nothing more than mere sycophants.
The relationship between the family and the Congress is interesting for many reasons, Congress needs the family to stay united while the family needs the Congress to serve its sense of importance and privilege. That way, they both end up serving one another but this leads one to question, who will be left then, to serve India? Recent events or policy or political decisions by the Congress have indicated that clearly national interest is the last thing on their mind as of today as their agenda is only to come to power- not with the intention to serve India but with the intention to put back the “rightful” heir on to the seat of power.
Mind you, he is a rightful heir for the legacy of emergency for many reasons. First and foremost is the need to place loyalists as Chief Ministers in the two states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi got a great opportunity to groom relatively young leaders such as Jyotiaditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot by making them Chief Ministers of these two states. But, for all his talk of bringing in more “young” people into politics, he decided to go with the old guard or party loyalists who have historically served the family well. A major reason behind this could be insecurity from such dynamic leaders as they can broaden the power structure of the Congress and make it less reliant upon the family. Such insecurity was at a great display during the tenure of Indira Gandhi specially during the days of emergency and this indicates that the pliant journalists are right- Rahul Gandhi is indeed the rightful heir to Indira Gandhi’s legacy.
In fact, the complete disregard for institutions along with the false belief that he’s beyond every institution and even beyond truth is extremely like India Gandhi who not only imposed the emergency but made it a point to make it the darkest phase in Indian Democracy. Any institution that says or does anything inconvenient to Rahul Gandhi is targeted by him as he claims that Prime Minister is trying to misuse the institution but when the institution complies, he is completely fine with it. Clearly, he wants them to be pliant and to comply with his whims and fancies rather than allowing institutions to be independent, objective and driven by merits of the matter. Be it the election commission, the supreme court, the CBI or the RBI, name one institution where Rahul has displayed a consistent stand? It’s not hilarious anymore as the second assault on Indian Democracy and institutions is being carried by the heir of Indira Gandhi who initiated the first assault during Emergency.
Beyond this assault on India’s institutions, Rahul Gandhi’s policies are as clueless as his grandmothers. For the first part of Indira’s political career, she pursued ardent left policies- her decision to concentrate banking power with the state further indicates how she was a strong believer in state controls and state planned allocation of resources. However, during the 1980s her policies completely shifted as she embraced crony capitalism and became pro select businesses. Just like her grandmother, Rahul Gandhi also displays similar conflicting ideologies as he argues for failed policies such as farm loan waiver and greater state control in business by reviving inefficient PSUs while at the same time, he talks about a single rate GST for India. Till date, I wonder what India’s economic and social policies would look like under him: a potential answer to that is that they’d look a lot like the policies under UPA. Massive splurging, populist policies geared at winning elections rather than finding long term solutions for India’s development- Rahul Gandhi would be a combination of Indira and Sonia and that’s not something that India can afford.
In fact, the entire Rafale controversy which is being needlessly raked up by Rahul Gandhi makes him similar to Indira Gandhi in more ways than one. While Rahul Gandhi has proven beyond doubt that he doesn’t mind compromising on national security to ensure reclaiming the seat of power that he feels he is entitled to, Indira Gandhi did not mind subverting democracy and imposing the Emergency on this country simply to retain power.
How does one forget that Rahul Gandhi went to JNU to support the ‘tukde tukde gang’ and brand slogans like ‘bharat tere tukde honge, inshallah inshallah’, ‘Afzal hum sharminda hai, tere qaatil zinda hai’ and ‘bandook se lenge azaadi’ and brand them ‘expression of dissent’, just because he feels putting the integrity of the nation at risk might earn him some brownie points, enabling him to claim the throne.
While the media is conveniently not asking him the right questions, it is important that we do accept and acknowledge the fact that he is the rightful heir to Indira Gandhi and make it a point to remember this when we make a very important choice regarding the future of our nation in 2019.
Karan Bhasin is a political economist by training and has diversified research interests in the field of economics. He tweets @karanbhasin95.