Mr. Gandhi’s promotion: Much ado about…well, nothing

 The biggest highlight of the Congress party’s “Chintan Shivir” in Jaipur was that Mr. Gandhi was promoted to the post of Vice-President of the Congress party. Why it takes three days of “Chintan” to state the obvious is a mystery. This announcement is as obvious as telling us that the sun rises in the east. Party leaders were at a loss trying to explain to the media how this promotion meant anything at all. After a long rambling defense of the young man, Digvijay Singh compared Mr. Gandhi’s speech to that of his father in the 1980s. Nostalgic perhaps for a bygone era, but completely oblivious of the decades that have passed by in the interim, where the party has squandered every opportunity to reform itself and provide the country a bold new direction.

Mr. Gandhi had nothing of significance to say during the Anna movement, on the various blatant scams of the current government, the Delhi rape issue, to list a few of the many issues of recent times, where he could have added his highly audible voice to the raging debates. His worldview is unknown and he chooses not to comment on most things until well after the fact, if at all. He led the Congress election effort in UP and the party was badly routed. To his credit, he accepted responsibility for the defeat. Thank goodness for small mercies. He never speaks to the media. All his public appearances are carefully choreographed. As a result, Mr. Gandhi remains a mystery to most Indians after close to a decade in the political limelight.

And yet, he earns himself a promotion. In his much touted speech, he addresses issues of accountability, leadership development, our value for position over knowledge, among other challenges. Ironically, if all of these were in place, he wouldn’t find himself in the position he holds today. To add to the irony, sycophants in the party are going gaga over his speech and falling over each other to praise the man.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

Wishful thinking in the new year…

The recent Delhi rape case is yet another example in an endless string of poorly managed issues by the current UPA government. The Delhi CM is at logger heads with the police. The Home Minister defends not meeting protesters. Then the Finance minister issues a statement on the issue after a cabinet meeting. The President’s son then sticks his foot in his mouth. When things get out of hand, the PM addresses the nation. Then, the victim is flown to Singapore. The doctors say it’s a government decision, while the External affairs minister says it’s a medical decision. Finally, Sonia Gandhi issues a statement and then the victim dies. One can’t help but wonder, “Who exactly runs this ship?”

Dynasty politics has been the bane of Indian politics for several decades now. The pioneers in this regard are India’s first family — the Gandhi family — which has set the gold standard for dynasty politics. They sit atop the massive financial and political complex, the Congress party. This giant colossus feeds and breeds an endless ever-growing army of sycophants, corrupt politicians, and bureaucrats. At the front end of this, is a sprinkling of honest faces like the PM and the Defense minister, for example. Over the last several decades, the Karunandhis, the Mulayams, the Pawars, among others, across the country, have strived to emulate this model.

But let’s take a step back and assess the Gandhis based on their public persona. Clearly, there is no Indira Gandhi equivalent in the Gandhi family today. By this, I mean someone with unstinted ambition, formidable drive, and steadfast ruthlessness. There is no Sanjay Gandhi equivalent either. What we have today is a reluctant Rahul Gandhi, an aging Sonia Gandhi with an unfortunate mystery illness, a Priyanka Gandhi who does not seem inclined to take the political plunge, and a Robert Vadera who rakes in the moolah by leveraging the family connections (assuming for a moment that the recent daring exposes about him have some merit). The result of this state of affairs is that the ruling party repeatedly appears completely rudderless.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times