Editorial: Politician Rahul Gandhi Emerges, Finally

Editorial: Politician Rahul Gandhi Emerges, Finally

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, June 07, 2024, 10:25 PM IST
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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi | File

In a video interview 25 years ago, Rahul Gandhi, then taking tentative steps in the political arena, was clear about one aspect: the inclusive idea of India that the Congress stood for against the divisiveness that the BJP-RSS championed. Years later, through the lows he had to face, the routing of the Congress in 2014 elections on his watch, the relentless vilification and character assassination by the BJP and its troll armies, ceding states to non-Congress parties, the hubris of heading an organisation corroded by age and self-serving satraps, and the viciousness of a hostile media, Gandhi stayed the path. Men of lesser fibre and character would have given up but the steel in his spine — bequeathed or cultivated — stood him in good stead. The 2024 election outcome, in which Congress touched the magic mark of 100 seats, was his moment to cherish.

To be sure, Gandhi committed errors of judgment such as steadfastly refusing to join the Dr Manmohan Singh-led government which would have initiated him into governance, and impulsively shredding an ordinance that the government had brought in, to name two. However, in the face of multiple challenges, he stayed firm on calling out the RSS and crony capitalists. Importantly, he did not allow himself to become bitter, angry, smug and spiteful unlike Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi who too was subjected to vicious attacks, on justified grounds, for the Gujarat riots on his watch as chief minister. Instead, Gandhi reached out to the people of India to emphatically push his idea of an inclusive, diverse, equitable and constitutionally-driven country; the two strenuous Bharat Jodo Yatras are evidence of his willingness to be physically tested and be comfortable with the common Indian. His accommodation with allies in the INDIA bloc shows a new maturity too.

In his renewed avatar, Gandhi has had support from — besides his family — Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge who has been content to allow him to be the party’s star. He articulates, even today, the polar opposite of the RSS’ idea of India. While Gandhi’s new acceptability is welcome, the road ahead is demanding: upping the ante in the Parliament, smart and tactical alliances, allowing space for allies while expanding the Congress, listening to varied voices on issues, rebuilding the party’s organisation, and so on. For a start, he will have to decide between his two seats, Wayanad and Raebareli, but that seems a small decision for a politician who seems to have — finally — come of age.

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