Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri
Hony. Dean, Centre For Economic Research and Advanced Studies, IIPM -
The last week of September couldn’t have been better for India. While on the one hand, a young team, coming out fresh from the shadows of the seniors, went to an experimental championship – primarily as underdogs – and eventually came out as victors, the same week also saw Congress eventually coming out of its inhibitions and getting ready to hand over the mantle to a whole new generation of young men. Although the Congress had been deliberating on the move for long, it was only now that it got the gumption to go ahead to appoint Rahul Gandhi as the General Secretary of All India Congress Committee (AICC). Till now, Rahul Gandhi had not been leading from the front and was more active at the backend. But then, eventually, he had to accept this reality that without him at the helm of affairs, the Congress does not have a future. More so at a point in time where there is mounting speculation of an early election on account of the Left allies falling apart on the Indo-US Nuclear deal.
To begin with, Rahul Gandhi has been given the charge of overseeing the Youth Congress and the student’s wing of National Students Union of India. Apart from this, he – along with his team of youngsters (including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajay Maken, Priya Dutt, Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasad and Sandeep Dikshit), who have found positions in the AICC secretariat – would be primarily responsible for wooing the young voters in the forthcoming national elections. No doubt this new induction, coupled with the kind of political lineage they all possess, will give the party a new and youthful look. Though Rahul Gandhi’s ascension as the General Secretary has been followed by a series of questions and apprehensions, more so on account of the outcome of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) state elections – seniors in the party and outside fear that Rahul has failed to sensitise ‘with’ the UP electorate and it is too early to bestow him with the supreme responsibility of the forthcoming national elections.
But then not very long ago, many a soothsayer had expressed similar apprehensions and almost written off Rajiv Gandhi when he had hurriedly taken over the mantle after the unfortunate assassination of Indira Gandhi. Eventually, Rajiv Gandhi not only proved all those people wrong, but also emerged as one of the most successful and dynamic Prime Ministers that India ever had had. Whatever success that we rejoice of today in the technology sector, the seeds had been sown by Rajeev long back. In fact, he was the first Prime Minister to take the liberal route, long before the nation finally got liberalised in 1991. His influence on the nation had been so strong that till today the vacuum due to Rajiv’s absence persists! It’s a fact that in Rahul, certain glimpses of Rajiv Gandhi can be seen. And with time and experience, there’s no doubt that even he will prove the naysayers wrong, in the same way as his father once did.
There is no doubt also about this fact that it is going to be an uphill task for Rahul, as there are going to be insurmountable challenges ahead of him; and of all those challenges, to lead the party and to lead the coalition (which is a reality) to success is going to be the steepest. And this is not forgetting the fact that it in itself would be challenging to gain acceptability and lead over established political honchos like Arjun Singh, Sharad Pawar, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the likes. The unfortunate fact is that in today’s factional politics, where coalitions are the reality, most leaders end up worrying about micro-management, compromising on the larger vision completely. Ergo, at every step, Rahul will have to exhibit a lot of political prowess and maturity to balance both. And it is not that he does not realise this, his decision to accept the post of General Secretary in itself is an indication that he has decided to lead from the front. More than anything else, his decision and that of other youngsters to take up such leadership responsibilities mark the dawn of a New India, as this is going to inspire more and more youngsters to jump into mainstream politics. And that is probably the biggest hope for India as there is no other way to get rid of our existing archaic mindset, inhibitions and needless protocol. For that matter, it was already high time that the representatives of the previous generation passed the mantle to the next generation. It is not that by doing so, the seniors become redundant – as when the youth run the nation, the seniors can always extend their experience as advisors, mentors and guides.
This is also true that the real benefit of the ascension of Rahul Gandhi would be when such a move is replicated in other political parties and, eventually, the educated youth of India control the destiny of this country. As and when that happens, it would be the true rise of India. As said by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Bharat Aabar Jagat Shobhay Shrestho Ashono Lobe’ (India, across the whole world, would again attain the highest pedestal)
This came out as Arindam Chaudhuri’s editorial in the Oct. 14th issue of THE SUNDAY INDIAN and has been brought to you by a special arrangement with THE SUNDAY INDIAN, the news weekly with the highest no. of editions in the world.
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