Much has already been written and discussed about Rahul Gandhi’s now infamously famous ‘break’. Well, here is another piece of some genuine advice for the Gandhi scion.
Rahul Gandhi and his family are well within their rights to say that he is entitled to his privacy. However, the harsh reality is that he is a public figure and holding a senior position of a national political party, so he will be subject to public scrutiny.
With power comes responsibility. It was very unprofessional and politically amateurish of him to just vanish at a critical juncture when the Land Bill was being discussed in Parliament! Sadly, there is no better way to describe his sudden disappearance to an unknown place for an unknown reason for an unknown span of time. He simply vanished! Not that the Congress party, or Indian politics, is suffering by his absence, but the fact remains that he is a part of Indian politics and his absence needs to be accounted for.
After Congress party’s disastrous performance in the recent elections, one would have thought that the party, especially its high command, would have learnt their lessons. Alas! This was yet again one of those expectations that the party could not fulfil, and it seems it has no desire for the same in the first place.
One of the Gandhi family’s and the party’s biggest problems is their lack of communication, and they did it again. Nobody knows this was in the offing. Nobody is clear about the reasons, the place where he is, when he will back, etc. Like always, they have left room for conjecture in spite of knowing the fact that usually speculations are anything but positive. Some people are thinking he is holidaying, some are saying he is undergoing some ‘political training’, others believe he had a disagreement with his mother, and the list is endless. Moreover, the destination of his break too is a subject of controversy. Whether it is in India or outside is known only to a few. Nobody except for the Congress party spokespeople are talking about the break in a favourable light. Here again, they do not have any specifics to share, just loose-ended statements like he will be back in a better form. If he had to go to ‘think(??)’ about the recent failure and given his role in the debacle, he should have either resigned from his post, or should have been fired. As expected, neither of these things happened and he has the best of both the worlds, further antagonising future voters.
Everybody knows that Rahul Gandhi is where he is only because of his surname. This is all the more reason for him to have proved his mettle. Instead, he is seen as a reluctant politician who is only interested in certain issues that appeal to him for a time-frame that suits him, only to be dealt with in a manner that suits him.
Now that he is gone and has been gone for a long time now, what is the best way forward to minimise the damage? When he is back, which is advisable to be soon enough now, he should immediately explain his absence with specifics and a concrete plan of action. Open-ended statements would do only harm. If indeed he was on a holiday, as some are guessing, he better not speak at all. That would be politically suicidal! And, if he was ‘thinking’ at some luxurious location outside India, then God save him!
He can pick up a few issues and start working on them so that by the time the next elections are here, people start taking him seriously. It would be best if he can come down from his ‘high chair’ and start working at the grassroots level along with other sincere Congress workers.
Hopefully, when he is back, he would have worked on his weaknesses like poor communication skills, reluctance to interact with the media and fear of social media (to name a few). If he doesn’t want to be in politics anymore, then this is a good time to bid adieu. However, if he wants to continue, he needs to communicate - communicate now and forever.
Rahul Gandhi is already a leader by virtue of his position in the Congress party. The least he can do is to grow to do some justice to his role. The Congress party, if not the entire country, must be hoping this break is aimed at that. Rahul Gandhi, let this ‘break’ not break you, but make you.
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)