Rahul Gandhi is the most loved and hated man of Indian journalists. Hated for he is one who offers very little new to write or speak about to the scribes and loved for he still gives them some form of comic relief. Rahul Gandhi is the safest bet in Indian journalism for one can write, speak or show a lot of stuff knowing about the leader very well that he will not be much successful in proving them wrong. [From Nehru to Rahul, BJP says it is withering away of dynasty]
The latest episode over the 44-year-old leader's return is a classic example of the media's unique stand on Rahul Gandhi.
While it is being said repeatedly that Rahul Gandhi is not a leadership material and the Congress is actually feeling him to be a liability, the media is also interested to know when he will succeed Sonia Gandhi as its chief. Paradox but worth it for the media. [Rahul Gandhi to meet farmers on April 18]
The paradox has a positive about it
But this paradox of the Congress and the Gandhis although look unfortunate, it also reveals a certain positive change in the Congress. The Congress has faced challenges a number of times during its long history of functioning, but have we ever seen any of those challenges opening up a space for democratisation in the party like now? [Rahul Gandhi returns from sabbatical]
'Democratisation in the Congress party' is indeed an unfamiliar term. But the current fiasco in the party over the question of succession challenges the status quo.
Whether Rahul Gandhi will be a better or worse leader than Sonia Gandhi is not the issue to burn midnight oil on. There is no other option but Rahul Gandhi for the Congress from here.
Debating two leaders: When did the Congress experience it last?
The more significant point to discuss is how many times in history have the Congress leaders got an opportunity to compare the leadership qualities of two leaders from the family that has run the party for a long, long time now?
Till now, one or the other Gandhi has ruled supreme in the Congress. Followed by the towering Jawaharlal Nehru and a brief hiatus of 2 years when Lal Bahadur Shastri was the prime minister, it was either Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi who dominated the Congress and the rest just followed their leadership.
This is the first time that the Congress has found itself stuck between the old guard and the successor and doesn't really know which way to go.
Apparently it's a mess but somewhere within the Congress which has never practised internal democracy since Indira Gandhi had taken over, this dilemma is a healthy sign. Confusion over two options is something an average Congressman hasn't witnessed much.
BJP too witnessed this confusion and took a decisive step in favour of Narendra Modi
The BJP too had undergone through this phase after the Vajpayee era got over and after a lot of confusion, took a decisive move of backing Narendra Modi at the expense of the old guard. Can the Congress take a lesson?
Some suggest that Sonia Gandhi should dismantle the dynastic rule to help the Congress survive but that is too ambitious a project. For the moment the Gandhis take a retreat and ask for an alternative leadership to take over, the party will be in splits.
Forget the criticism & fun, Congress should debate the leaderships of Sonia & Rahul and learn to find a democratic solution
It will be best for the party to engage in more debate and discussion, constructive though, to find out whose leadership (Sonia or Rahul) can serve it better. If required, a council of leaders can be chosen to assist Rahul Gandhi as the chief. This will help the party prepare itself better for a transition from the Gandhis to a non-Gandhi leadership if it is required at all in the future.
But this crisis is definitely an opportunity for the Congress. They have nothing to lose but much to gain from this point onwards. And they should take up the business seriously for their own sake.