Will Rahul be able to live up to the 'change' expectations?



a
The appointment of Rahul Gandhi as vice-president of the Congress party is being touted as a game changer in the Indian politics in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls 2014.

Congressmen have hailed his call for ‘change’, à la Obama. The Obama effect was evident in other ways too. On January 21, 2013, the day when Rahul Gandhi made his maiden passionate speech after being crowned the No 2 position in Congress which moved the masses, Barack Obama also officially assumed office for second term as US President.

Coming out of the shadow of his mother Sonia Gandhi and taking the reins of the party in his hands, Rahul declared that he would work to decentralise power. He said, “This power is actually a poison”, how true!

In a rare glimpse into his inner being, Rahul said, “Last night my mother came to my room and she sat with me and she cried... She cried because she understands that the power so many people seek is actually a poison. It (Indira Gandhi’s death) was the first time I saw my father crying... I could see my father was broken... That same evening I saw him addressing the nation on TV... I know like me he was terrified of what lay in front of him. As we spoke in that dark night, I felt a small glimmer of hope.”

Perhaps it is indeed tough to handle power. With power comes great responsibilities and there are only a handful of people who can live upto the expectations and do justice to their responsibilities.

While making his maiden speech, after being appointed the VP of the party, Rahul Gandhi at the conclave in the city of Jaipur on Sunday said that India`s governmental system was struck in the past and needed transformation. "A handful of people control the entire political space. We don`t respect knowledge, we respect position," he added. With the Gandhi scion finally taking up the position of power, the youth will have now a voice.

True, the youth of India is angry but anger can’t bring a major change as they do not have the power - they are still largely excluded from the political process.

Rahul may have taken a bit more time than others to rise and accept his responsibilities but who knows may be his call can change the face of India for the better! At least the young Congress VP is simply not back-bashing and criticizing others, which is easier than to face challenges.

South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Meenakshi Ganguly said, "The Indian government often has noble intentions when it comes to creating laws and policies, but too often the impact on the lives of ordinary Indians is minimal."

Yes, Meenakshi is very correct in assessing the scenario. Even before the angst triggered by the gruesome Delhi gang-rape incident ebbed, many more incidents continue to get reported on a daily basis. It seems the candle light protests and anger of the youth has all gone down in vain as the expected change has not occurred at the ground level. So, here comes the responsibility of implementing policies well so that the common mass of India gets its benefit.

Rahul analyzed it correctly when he said, “It doesn`t matter how much wisdom you have. If you don`t have position, you have nothing. That`s the tragedy of India.”

It is not like that the Indian government has not taken any forward-looking step to improve human rights record. Initiatives like setting and initializing of the special fast track courts to try cases of sexual offences and ‘181’ women helpline number are steps in the right direction but still, the Indian judicial system needs to be made more accessible and affordable for the common masses. However, implementation will remain a challenge unless the government holds accountable the officials tasked to enforce the laws.

As Rahul Gandhi said, “Congress party is now my life; people of India are my life. I will fight for people of India and for this party. I will fight with everything that I have.” If he can match his work with his words then who knows his dream to see a better and changed India can become a reality.

The 42-year-old leader is widely expected to be the Congress party`s candidate for prime minister in next year`s General Elections.

As a prelude, last November, Rahul was appointed as the head of a committee which will look after party activities relating to the 2014 elections.

Although the two-term Congress government which has been hit by corruption allegations and claims of inaction is expected to face a tough 2014 polls, under Rahul’s leadership the party might find a new lease of life.

Some argue that Rahul’s elevation will scuttle the chances of many senior Congress leaders to be PM and that Rahul’s elevation is an example of dynasty politics. But they seem to ignore that Rahul is a strong individual in his own right and has it in him to be the prime minister.

Rahul’s stepping into the limelight and ushering in change will definitely not be easy. It is rightly said ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. He might have to first overhaul his own party as troubled brewed soon after his anointment when Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde alleged that the training camps run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were promoting Hindu terrorism.

Shinde may have the proof against right wing elements but to claim that BJP/RSS were running terror camps was playing the card too dangerously.

My wish and hope is that when Rahul spoke of change he meant it and that he won’t succumb to the attraction of playing vote bank politics.

But leading Congress into the 2014 polls, the Gandhi scion has to be very careful. BJP and its allies have gained strength and can pose a serious challenge. With the ruling UPA support at an all time low, the NDA is sensing an opportunity to strike gold this time around. Many are of the view that the NDA should be given a chance in the next general elections to form the government as corruption has spread under the UPA’s two consecutive terms. Many are even saying that the voters should refrain from falling into the trap of Congress, again. But the BJP is still fighting to find a face to lead it in the 2014 elections. A party whose leaders are fighting among themselves and facing corruption charges claims that it will deliver good governance to India - one wonders how?

Clearly, 2014 elections will turn out to be a difficult decision for Indian voters. Indian politics is not just about big shots of BJP and Congress. 2014 will be about regional parties, parties like TMC, DMK, SP, BSP, AIADMK which have the ability to swing polls results. It is in such a situation that the ‘Yuvaraj’ of Congress must make an impact on the voters and usher in the change, which he himself and the people of India expect.