Will he usher in change?
By Dhurjati Mukherjee
The elevation of Rahul Gandhi to the top position of the Congress augurs well for the party’s fortunes, which needs a dynamic leader to steer it in the right direction. The sixth scion of the Nehru-Gandhi to take over the leadership on the Congress, it is widely believed that he would bring about transformative changes in the organisation and arrest its decline. Political analysts believe that Rahul’s elevation is expected to identify the organisation with the aspirations of a modern, progressive and democratic India.
Rahul has become a full-fledged politician and lately demonstrated that he could mix with the masses and win their support. His leadership qualities and commitment, which was once suspect, is no longer being questioned. Moreover, in the coming years his strength would lie in his steadfast adherence to idealism notwithstanding the practitioners of realpolitic in favour of pragmatism.
However, he would have to make the party more democratic through dialogue, discussion and contestation of ideas without fear of political repercussions for those who choose to express judicious dissent. The party president would have to be more democratic and be easily accessible so that diverse views and opinions are heard.
There is another important role before Rahul to unify the dissenting views prevalent among party leaders in the various States. He has to become a symbol of leadership that is powered by selflessness and an unswerving commitment to the party and national governance.
The question, however, before the new chief is whether he has capacity to frighten the leading rival party that is, the BJP and take on the various problems created by the latter. Issues relating to political, economic and secular matters have created lot of controversy and Rahul has to take advantage of the fallacies of the party in power.
Firstly, let us take the case of condition of minorities who are being terrorised and humiliated in various ways. There is need for the Congress leadership, led by the new president, to assure the minorities that the country is peace loving as secularism is ingrained in our Constitution. Religion should not be allowed to take upper hand in the running of the government as is now manifest to the detriment of social balance.
Gandhiji’s uncompromising belief of the need for co-existence between faiths and Nehru’s emphasis on cultivating a modern scientific temper has to be the new approach of Rahul so as to promote amity and social and communitarian unity. Fascist forces – whether supported by Hindutva or Islamic forces – have to be dealt with an iron hand by people like Rahul.
Secondly, the recent measures off demonetisation and the GST have become subjects of controversy as the economy has shown a downward trend. While demonetisation has not achieved the desired objective of unearthing black money, GST has come not in the right manner with the highest tax being fixed as high as 28 per cent, defying all economic rationale and rarely levied in most other countries. These have been taken up by Rahul and his sharp criticism of the government has been accepted by the people.
There can be no doubt that the economy is in a bad shape and the GDP growth rate may not be more than 6.3 per cent for the current fiscal. Thus all promises of the prime minister of ‘achhe din’ have become a joke with the condition of farmers having deteriorated in a big way and unemployment and underemployment having increased greatly. Rahul has already taken up these issues at the national level but there is need to organise movements in each and every State and give more thrust to the these vital matters plaguing the nation.
Thirdly, Rahul has to ensure that corruption in the organisation is tackled with an iron hand. During the UPA government, there were various scams that resulted in the image of the Congress being tarnished to a considerable extent.
Finally, dissent in the country is slowly being throttled virtually in all spheres by a section that has the support and active encouragement of the establishment. Discussion and debate has to be encouraged in a healthy society and Rahul has to demonstrate this through his own actions. The killings that have taken place in the past few months bear testimony to societal decline that is, no doubt, a cause for concern in the country.
The country is at a flux and there is cause for serious concern keeping in view the recent developments that have taken place. The Congress party has an upper hand in the matter and Rahul has to take full advantage of this. As Modi mania ebbs, he has enough time to build a credible challenge in 2019. However, it needs to be pointed out that would have to give credit to the BJP masterminds for bringing the country to such a critical situation.
Rahul has the leadership qualities but more maturity and dynamism would be needed in the coming years. One way mention here that he has withstood caricature of Modi and the BJP leadership which he tackled in a commendable manner. His rebellious voice was initially not quite strong but over the years this has is being taken due cognisance. The Assembly election in Gujarat would definitely show that the Congress may not get majority but would fare much better than the previous result.
The future has the potential of transforming society in line with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals from all aspects, whether economic social and political. The new Congress president has the onerous task of gearing the party along proper lines to ensure a healthy social atmosphere. How much he will succeed and how far he will be able to gear the party in not just tackling the diverse problems but also in creating the much needed bondage among members of the community only time will tell.
To conclude, we need an inclusive and sustainable society which the masses very much expect political leaders like Rahul Gandhi to steer ahead with a judicious and rationale approach. We have to keep hope to face the challenges with courage and determination so as to bring about transformation in society.—INFA