Rahul Gandhi: Past, Present and Future

Rahul Gandhi: Past, Present and Future

By M.D. Nalapat | 29 October, 2017
Regulation following regulation, law after law, procedure upon procedure got changed for the worse during the UPA decade, to silence from Past Rahul.

After several false alarms, is it possible that this time around also, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will allow her longtime retainer-confidants to yet again delay handing over the formal leadership of the party to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi? After the 2014 collapse of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls, it was clearly time for a change in the party leadership. Given that members of the Congress Party are temperamentally unable to coalesce around any individual other than from the Nehru family, it was inevitable that only Rahul could make the cut, given the Vadra factor affecting sister Priyanka. With little more than a year to go before the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul needs to take over before it is too late for him to have a viable chance of setting a course that could enable Congress to challenge and even surprise the BJP. His success as party chief will hinge on whether Future Rahul will be different from Past Rahul. Throughout the ten years of the Manmohan Singh government, in which the remote control was firmly in Sonia Gandhi’s grip, there was little trace of the Present Rahul. If the Congress vice-president had any objections to the many restrictive laws and policies operationalised during 2004-14, he has kept them to himself. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, for instance, increased the powers of his officials to a level that substantially increased chances for the harassment that is the Standard Operating Procedure of corrupt officials . Rahul watched silently even while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh equated through law the bribe giver with the bribe taker, thereby ensuring that nobody, who had been forced to pay a bribe, would ever reveal that transaction. 

In coal, spectrum, petrochemicals and in numerous other fields, official decisions got taken that had no basis in any calculus except that of greed. Favoured businesspersons would buy assets and companies abroad at low prices and later offload them to PSUs at a huge premium. When Pranab Mukherjee was made Finance Minister—possibly because of his world record of imposing a tax rate of 97.25% while serving Indira Gandhi—and expectedly crafted a budget that severely damaged long-term business confidence, Rahul was as silent as when Home Minister Chidambaram introduced the Kafkaesque visa provision that no foreigner could visit India within six months of an earlier visit. Such a prohibition makes as little sense as the present rule for e-visas that only two single entry applications are allowable per person in a single year. Is India so awful that two visits would be the maximum that could be expected?

Regulation following regulation, law after law, procedure upon procedure got changed for the worse during the UPA decade, to silence from Past Rahul, although Present Rahul nowadays condemns similar genuflections to bureaucratic excess, most recently in the matter of how GST has been conceived and implemented. A senior official was fully justified in pointing out that “the present GST is neither good nor simple”. But this is what comes of a process of governance in which only the civil service, and not civil society, is seriously involved in conceiving policies and processes. 

Together with the RBI’s total failure to ensure adequate liquidity when demonetisation was introduced, and the fact that compliance is a nightmare for small and medium GST taxpayers, the possibility of a further erosion in the economy is what opens the possibility of Lok Sabha 2019 repeating 2004.

Once his party was humiliated at the polls and driven out of office, Present Rahul emerged, and this has been a welcome improvement over the past. Present Rahul joined hands with Subramanian Swamy (who is not among Sonia Gandhi’s more ardent admirers) in seeking to do away with another of the many archaic provisions in the law, “Criminal” Defamation. Post-2014, Rahul has talked in favour of lower curbs on the internet, a huge departure from his acquiescence in earlier Chidambaram-Sibal monstrosities such as the revised Information Technology Act, whose provisions have unexpectedly found favour with the present government as well. As indeed have a plethora of other pre-Modi regulations and laws that need to be eliminated if efficiency and growth, not to mention the rights of citizens in a democracy, are to be a part of the Indian experience. Even on matters as toxic to traditionalists as doing away with outdated IPC provisions on same-sex relationship, Present Rahul has taken a stand that reflects the realities of the 21st century and not the 19th clung on to by the UPA. 

On economic policy, Present Rahul has warned against tax terrorism, although he was silent during the period when Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee were handling the Finance portfolio, and raids and prosecutions were common. Not having a direct line to power seems to have made Rahul Gandhi realise that it is India’s hyper-regulated and hyper-expensive governance mechanism that is keeping the people of our country so pathetically poor. But should his party once again get back into the portals of governance, will Present Rahul soon make way for Past Rahul? Will the Chidambarams and the Sibals return to impose their colonial vision on the country, after a hiatus in which both have donned the garb of “minimum government” votaries, or will there be new people chosen? Will Sachin Pilot and Manish Tewari return to their UPA-era aloof mien from their present approachability? Will Rahul Gandhi once more forget that the English language is a boon and not a curse, or that secularism does not mean adherence only to the views of minority fundamentalists and not the moderate majority within the minority? Will he follow Sonia Gandhi in again pushing the majority community back towards second-class status? Or will Future Rahul accept that secularism means equal rights and treatment for all, rather than favoured treatment for some at the expense of the others? What is clear is that if Present Rahul morphs back to Past Rahul in the—still unlikely—eventuality of his party returning to power in 2019, he as Congress president will be attending the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Adityanath in 2024, if not earlier.

There are 10 Comments

Modi’s failure to curb babudom could have serious electoral consequences. But Modi is hell bent on putting his eggs in their basket, ignoring warnings of well wishers. A repeat of 2004 is not impossible.

Diagnosis of 2004 loss of BJP was never dealt with properly even by seasoned commentators like Nalapatji. The Difference between BJP 2004 and BJP 2019 will be Amit Shah. By 2004 BJP completed a good 5 years in office and no expansion of the party beyond cow belt except Karnataka. Look at BJP today. Another difference is Modi is no Vajpayee. People are still willing to bet on him. A loss in Gujarat( 0.1%possibility ) or probable losses in Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh, MP due to anti- incumbency will not deter Modi in 2019 as wins in 2003 in these states didn't help Vajpayee in 2004 elections

By abdicating all powers to his most hated confidante Arun Jaitely not only harmed himself but also to RSS BJP Hindu and India.His total subjugation to him by allowing g him control whole ministry and not listening to cries of his supporters Bhakta voters he showed that he is under a vicious cycle of some mystery.We never believed rumours but by not removing him from ministry he proved us wrong.GST is a good tax but it imposed a vicious cycle of Inspector Raj on traders.The items which were never taxed are taxed now.The farmers are crying by tax on cotton and its produces.Traders are crying to file several GSTR every month online.The offline system not improvised.All acts rules imposed by Sonia Gandhi naxal supporters are not annulled.RTI RTE NFSA are vigourously implemented.RTE is against Hindu.RTI is a blackmailing tool.NFSA killed poor.Land acquisition bull stopped development.AADHAR give citizenship rights to all Muslim infiltrators from Pakistan Bangladesh Myanmar.This is a secular govt but no secular supports it.It came to power by 35% Hindu vote .No Muslim Christians voted it but it works for them forgetting the loyalty of Hindus.We hope RSS will brng in a more strong vocal and nationalist Hindu to replace Modi by 2019 and remove shackles of Arun Jaitely.

Amit shah?

Dr. Subramanian Swamy deserves to be next PM.

Future Rahul....2 possibilities post Gujarat. 1. If Congress manages to grab 60-70 seats in Gujarat..he will be declared as winner and will b coronated OR 2. If it gets trounced he will disappear for 6 months to undergo another intensive training session.

2019 no replacement to present, 2024 (Only if Modi personally decides to leave office) could be Amit Shash and 2029 would be Yogi. I don`t find any other alternative for next 15 years than BJP. Congress should first try to be a credible strong opposition after 2019 only then they will be in a position to fight BJP in 2024 , but their attitude don`t indicate that, so I think they will not have any chance to be in power for near future. BJP has polarised the society to such an extent that it will be very difficult for any political establishment to make even a dent in that. I feel by 2022 Modi will become indispensable PM.

In my opinion, even at age 64 (he is 46 now), Rahul Gandhi would continue to be a Yuva Neta as he would continue in the process of maturing, which started 10 years ago.

Well Said... Yuva Neta...and will continue t be one...all time to come...

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