A lot of excitement is being seen in the media over the return of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president who went missing for unknown reasons for 56 days. News channels said on Wednesday that the 44-year-old leader is due to arrive in the night. [Meet leaders known for guest appearances during crisis]
Rahul Gandhi's absence has only bred differences and confusion
Differences and confusion were seen in the Congress circles over the leadership of party president Sonia Gandhi and that of Rahul Gandhi with some senior leaders throwing their weights behind the former. It was getting clear that the missing vice-president did not have much supporters, especially among the old guards. [Will Rahul Gandhi return today?]
Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, her son Sandeep Dikshit and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh also openly preferred Sonia Gandhi's leadership.
If Rahul Gandhi doesn't really matter, what's so much noise over his return?
If that is the case, then why is so much being said and heard about the return of Rahul Gandhi? How does it matter much for the country's political life? Sonia Gandhi, the leader who still matters the most for the Congress, is still there, visible and active.
Curiosity about Congress's tricky future is creating all the sensation
The root cause of the sensation is not Rahul's return but the curiosity about the future of the grand-old party. No matter what the Congress's own leaders say, there is no denying that Sonia Gandhi is not the leader of the future. The ageing and ailing leader can not be expected to pull out the Congress from trouble yet again, as she had done in the mid-2000s.
It is almost impossible now for Sonia Gandhi to pull out Congress from trouble now
Sonia Gandhi's mission was successful in 2004 and 2009 because the BJP was getting stagnant. Now, the situation has changed completely and it is too much to expect the ageing Gandhi to take on and defeat the new BJP leadership under Narendra Modi four years hence.
Congress' tragic trap
And here lies the Congress's tragedy. The party has to look forward to evolve if it wants to survive but the gigantic failure of Rahul Gandhi has prevented it from doing so and it has to go back to the old leadership to find a route out of the trouble. The old leadership, in turn, is waiting for the successor to rise to the occasion. This sorry stagnation is something the BJP had faced in its post-Vajpayee days and it had to wait till a fresh face like Modi arrived and took charge.
But the Congress's inherent structure of functioning will make it difficult for a Modi-like leader to rise in its ranks. Its only option of survival is Rahul Gandhi, irrespective of his track record.
Rahul's disappearance brought a poetic justice to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's kin
Rahul Gandhi's story of disappearance has somewhere brought a poetic justice to the aggrieved kin of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the iconic Congress leader whose whereabouts were not known after he had boarded a plane in 1945.
The noise over Rahul's return is caused by curiosity over Congress's future
Scores of conspiracy theories did the rounds about Jawaharlal Nehru, the great-grandfather of Rahul Gandhi and India's first prime minister, disliking Netaji and recent declassification of some files even said that Nehru's government had carried out surveillance on Netaji's kin for two decades. Rallies have been brought out to declassify more files to resolve the mystery permanently.
Not many in Congress would have liked to see Netaji return, not many eager to see Rahul return either?
Going by the stories and the evidence, not many top Congressmen would have liked Netaji return safely to India seven decades ago. Today, the mood is similarly not very exciting in the Congress camp when it comes to the return of Nehru's own successor from a mysterious vacation. It certainly has levelled the fortunes somewhere.
Or even if Rahul Gandhi's wise advisers had recommended him a sabbatical so that he could make a much-awaited entry among his demoralised loyalists to make it look like a kind of turnaround, it actually will prove to be counter-productive and cement the vice-president's image as that of a leader who escapes his duty when it matters the most.