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Congress’ trusted journalist Rasheed Kidwai paints a sorry picture of Rahul Gandhi in Barkha Dutt interview: Here are 5 things he said

One of the most notable points that Kidwai made was that Rahul Gandhi lacked confidence when it comes to leadership. He drew a contrasting parallel between the leadership of Gandhi and the confident and dynamic presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Indian politics.

On 10th March, journalist-turned-YouTuber Barkha Dutt published an interview with journalist Rasheed Kidwai. He is a journalist who is best known for his intimate knowledge of the inner circle of the Congress Party. During the interview, Kidwai provided a better picture of the current state of the grand old party under the leadership of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.

Notably, Kidwai said that though Congress has a working president with a lot of experience in the political arena in the form of Mallikarjun Kharge, he has to look to Rahul Gandhi for the final decisions. Kidwai’s insights about the Congress party provided deeper information about the challenges that have plagued it over the years which varied from leadership issues to ideological vacuity.

Leadership and confidence crisis

One of the most notable points that Kidwai made was that Rahul Gandhi lacked confidence when it comes to leadership. He drew a contrasting parallel between the leadership of Gandhi and the confident and dynamic presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Indian politics. According to Kidwai, Gandhi had a serious lack of confidence and decisiveness which are hallmarks of effective leadership which eventually translated into a lack of clear vision and direction for the Congress party.

Furthermore, there is an issue of communication gap between Rahul Gandhi, Congress leaders and the masses. Kidwai pointed out that Rahul Gandhi’s grooming was completely different from Rajiv Gandhi’s and Sanjay Gandhi’s. Sonia Gandhi could not help Rahul in becoming a leader who could win the masses, like Rajiv Gandhi. He emphasises that effective communication is not just about speaking but resonating with the electorate’s aspirations and concerns. Rahul Gandhi seriously falls short of such a connection to the masses.

The Gandhi dynasty’s political failures

The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is known for its influence on India’s political landscape. However, compared to leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi’s leadership is marked by a series of electoral failures. It has cast doubts on his political will and the viability of the dynasty’s continuing leadership.

Furthermore, Kidwai asserted a perception that Rahul Gandhi has failed as a political leader. He doing is his best to remain significant in the political landscape. However, his overall desire to win elections has faded to a point where the Congress party looks more like a party whose only aim is to bring social change whether they win the elections or not. Despite the dynasty’s storied legacy, Rahul Gandhi’s leadership poses a significant challenge to the revival of the grand old party. Kidwai hinted that Congress needs to re-evaluate the leadership strategies within the party.

Rasheed Kidwai also pointed out that the party failed to form a parliamentary committee since Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination which is off for the Congress party as its constitution repeatedly talks about the importance of a parliamentary committee.

Ideological confusion within Congress

Kidwai pointed out that there is a serious lack of clear ideology in the Congress party. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has branded itself as a mix of nationalism and development politics, Congress lacked a coherent ideological stand. It makes it difficult for the party to position itself as a credible alternative to the mammoth that BJP has become. Interestingly, he pointed out that Gandhi had failed to even propagate his attack on Adani to his party workers. Senior party leaders avoid direct attack on Adani and Congress-ruled states have done deals with the Adani Group to bring business to the state. All it has happened while Gandhi consistently targeted Adani by linking him to PM Modi.

Furthermore, Congress struggles to define its ideological identity to compete with the BJP’s dominant narrative, Kidwai explained. “There is ideological confusion among the party leaders which is never seen among the BJP leadership”, he told. Rasheed Kidwai said if 100 BJP leaders were asked about an ideological question, their answer would remain the same. However, if 100 Congress leaders are asked about an ideological question, their answers would be in different directions. Such ideological confusion has rendered the party unable to attract new supporters effectively.

Exodus of party veterans

Another serious issue, according to Kidwai is the exodus of party veterans and senior leaders. The departure of seasoned and popular politicians from the Congress party highlighted a crisis of confidence within the party ranks. Gulam Nabi Azad, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sunil Jakhar and Amarinder Singh are some of the names that left the party. Sarma, Scindia, Jakhar and Singh joined the BJP and doing well in their political careers. The loss of experienced leaders had a serious impact on the morale of the party workers which eventually helped the BJP, Kidwai added.

Talking about Sarma’s reason for leaving the party, Kidwai said that Sarma set a narrative and gave a solid reason for leaving the party. However, the other side of the story never came out. Rahul Gandhi never explained himself or told his side of the story. He claimed that the “biscuit incident” which Sarma referred to would have happened multiple times in the past but never made it to the headlines.

For those who are unaware, Sarma left the Congress party after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi. Sarma accused Gandhi of offering Congress leaders biscuits from the same plate his dog, Pidi, ate biscuits. He also accused Gandhi of ignoring them during the meeting and rather spending time with the dog.

Failure in media engagement

Rasheed Kidwai said that Rahul and Priyanka were reluctant to proactively engage with media which has resulted in a narrative that is controlled by the opponents. When Barkha Dutt pointed out that Gandhis do press meets unlike PM Modi, he said that Gandhis have failed to engage with the local media strategically. Unlike the BJP, Congress failed to articulate the party’s vision via media platforms and counteract adversarial narratives.

Kidwai mentioned that the narrative that the media is biased towards Gandhis is wrong. He pointed out that even in BJP-ruled Gujarat, newspapers that are critical of PM Modi have flourished exponentially during his tenure as Chief Minister of the state.

As Lok Sabha elections are approaching, the Congress Party has been increasingly coming across as chaotic and unprepared. While leaders like Sachin Pilot have argued that Congress has to win elections as they are a political party and not an NGO, Congress’ own leaders seem confused and clueless about their election strategy and approach.

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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