Unity March: Is Rahul Gandhi’s Gameplan in Sync with New President Mallikarjun Kharge?
Asia News Agency
Some analysts and observers, kind to Rahul Gandhi, say he is a person not well understood. Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr (Senior Journalist) for example, says “we assume he is a Congress politician like any other, and that when he says he won’t, he would. So, when he resigned as Congress chief after the 2019 Lok Sabha election defeat, we assumed that it was an empty gesture, and that he would resume office under pressure from party members.”
Though he was pressured to take back his resignation, he said neither he nor the members of his family would take up the office of party president. “Everyone, including the Congress watchers in the media, brushed it aside as fluff of no significance. And when Sonia Gandhi was made the interim president, it seemed that he was proved wrong. Rahul did not say anything further.
“After Mallikarjun Kharge’s election, he said he would follow Kharge’s decisions. Again, it was seen as a hypocritical statement. It is now reported that he refused to meet Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, making it clear that the head of the party is Kharge and there is no separate power centre……
“Rahul is determined to cut the umbilical cord between the Gandhi family and the party in terms of power and domination. This is still at a very nebulous stage, and until it takes a definite form, people would not believe it….”
The effort of Rahul Gandhi to displace himself and the family from the power equation in the party seems a little too good to be true, feels Rao Jr. “But he is trying hard to achieve it and it may take a long time before the Congress will learn to stand on its own feet.”
About Rahul own political role
Rahul’s Unity March (Bharat Jodo Yatra) “is becoming a largely his own effort to bring people together, which seems to have had a good response in south India, and it is to be seen whether it would mean anything in the north. The ‘yatra’ is his own outreach programme, and what he is doing benefits the party as well…..
“There is not much of a guarantee that Rahul’s mass contact programme through the ‘yatra’ and his attempt to bring people at large into the political dialogue will succeed. He has refused to play the soft Hindutva card, which he may have had to play as party president in the context of elections.
“He is now free to express a broader view of communal amity, and criticise the BJP in terms of its economic failures. He has still not succeeded in articulating a stronger message against Modi’s economic populism. But Rahul has sensed rightly that things are quite bad on the economic front and people are feeling the pinch……”
Nevertheless, “Rahul faces an uphill task…”
Kharge pledged to serve the Gandhis
But what about the new Congress President, Kharge?
Most analysts feel he will always remember that he owes his post to the Gandhis. Joining Gandhi’s Unity March last week at a party rally in Telangana, Mallikarjun Kharge made it clear that Rahul Gandhi would be his party’s face for its campaign for Lok Sabha elections in 2024. He also gave a call to the Congress leaders and workers to join hands and give their best shot to bring a Congress government at the Centre.
Kapil Komireddi (author of Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India) is of the same view. Komireddi notes that in his own speech, Kharge, “rather than set out a distinct vision to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party, pledged to serve as a devoted evangelist for Rahul Gandhi’s transformative revelation: ‘do not fear.’………
“Kharge, lest we forget, did not want a contest. He craved a coronation in the Congress tradition. And that is what he would have got had Tharoor not resisted the intense pressure brought to bear upon him to make himself scarce. The cardinals of the Congress Party in the end lavished praise on themselves for participating in an election for which Tharoor was responsible—then stigmatised and ostracised Tharoor for subjecting them to the election. Nothing about their conduct suggested that the irony had even occurred to them. The ceremony was as graceless as it was farcical.”