The nation has to make its choice of choosing a leader that leads its people on the path of prosperity. It is a time to establish that we as a nation make the right choice by upholding our highly cherished democratic norms. It is a time to prove to the world and etch in history that we are not a monarchy in disguise, we are not a land of feudal lords and we are not a nation that hangs by the branches of a banyan tree planted by the grandfather just for the reason that it bears his name.
We need to progress in a competitive world, protect ourselves from our enemies, refocus the power of youth, build bridges for a prosperous tomorrow and erase incompetence, complacency, corruption and internal conflicts. We live in a testing time. As such, we need to seriously weigh our choices.
At a time like this and while making the right choice, we need to capitalize on experience, efficiency and effectiveness of a leader that has proven his worth in the society. The choice that we make for the nation is the choice that we make on the future of our children. While people are frustrated with the indecisive rule of Congress that is fraught with senility and sycophancy and are getting excited about the prospects of Narendra Modi leading our nation, Congress is positioning Rahul Gandhi as a future Prime Minister.
What a choice of leader the Congress puts forward!
Rahul is a Gandhi by name. It is a great name that is unconnected to the great one but was acquired by an insignificant quirk of fate after his grandmother married a man by that name and then passed on these precious six alphabets carefully through the generations. This Gandhi who lent his family name to Rahul did nothing worthy of that name that we so fondly cherish, but very unknowingly, he created a mammoth brand capital to the family and to a political party that has nothing else to pride about but the name. Well, what's in a name? In this case, much of everything that is not in the person who bears it. The name bears a powerful recognition which may perhaps mesmerize and confuse the younger generation of India.
It has that power which keeps a tight leash on the largest political party that no longer has an idealism or vision to lead the country and even give promotion to those facing serious corruption charges . It has the allure of making an ordinary Indo-Italian man into a crown prince and heir-apparent of extraordinary fortune. It has that amazing historical value that easily turned an Italian woman on Indian soil into a 'Regent' and the Indian National Congress into a 'Regency'. It is a name that when misplaced on a fortunate lad - shamed the democratic norms and legitimized a 'monarchy' with a sugar coat of democracy.
Modi is not a Gandhi by name. Except that he comes from the soil, which bore Gandhi, he too is unconnected to the great one in lineage. He does not have the fortune of the insignificant quirk of fate that endowed the head of the Prince of Congress with the halo of power. He had no illusions of rising to power through thumb-sucking childhood on a political landscape where regents would wait on his steps.
He has worked his way up by serving the people for decades, delivering goods that matter in the everyday lives and binding the individual fates of the 6 crore people of Gujarat to a smiling destiny of a better tomorrow. He did not rise in power as a namesake or for the namesake. He bore a vision of delivering power to the peoples' arms, so that they could earn their meal, quench their thirst, raise their children, live in honour and build a society of health, happiness and hope. What's in his name? Nothing that brings power or some beneficial confusion that the name 'Gandhi' brings. But what's in his deeds is what matters.
Under Modi, peace has reigned in Gujarat with a record of no communal riots in a decade of his rule while the other parts of country have faced recurrent riots. AP, UP, Bihar and Maharastra have seen repeated events of communal disharmony. Modi does not pursue an appeasement policy as he targets development for all.
UK's most influential Muslim MP, Lord Adam Patel, who is the founder of Council of Indian Muslims , a UK-based organisation that was formed to campaign against Gujarat riots, met Modi on 24th Jan 2013 to show solidarity. Adam, who played a pivotal role in organizing protests during Modi's visit to London in 2003, has now reconciled to the fact that Modi is a friend of all communities alike and has invited him to London
In the recently concluded Gujarat Assembly elections, 11% Muslims voted in favour of BJP which is a significant change in the thinking and proves against a common belief that Muslims do not favour him. Time magazine has held high the message of Brand Gujarat and it now looks like the model that should cover the entire republic of India. Against such tall accomplishments of development and communal harmony, what is being compared is a person of no vision, experience, accomplishment, public acceptance or even relevance to our society.
If Rahul Gandhi is the choice before us against the prospect of Narendra Modi, it plainly is a choice between inexperience and experience. It is a choice between someone who has never held an office against one who has led a state for over a decade and established a model of exemplary development. It will be a choice between upholding monarchy against voicing for democracy.
And if Rahul is the choice, it is a fateful choice of a pitiable nation.
(The views expressed in this article are the author's own. VK Saxena is president of the National Council for Civil Liberties.)