The sudden appearance of Robert Vadra in political advertisements has caught many by surprise. Given the party’s track record of allegiance to the Gandhi-Nehru family, this move should have been expected. In the general elections of 2014, Robert Vadra was seen giving hints in interviews about his interest in joining politics. However, he paled in comparison to Narendra Modi and his party did not take him seriously. Two years down the line, the party is seen welcoming him. Can we see this as a desperate measure in desperate times?
The Congress party is at its lowest lows and is somehow making one mistake after the other. The elevation of Robert’s status in the family and political circles is suicidal. Not only does he not have the gravitas of a politician, his image is tarnished. Robert has many scams to his credit, all of which he has not been taken to task for. He is seen getting pictures clicked with his bikes and other riches – things that can only draw the common man away from him.
One of the biggest problems of the Gandhi family is that they consider themselves as infallible. They are surrounded by a coterie of obsequious partymen, who would never risk telling them the truth. The Congress party’s abysmal performance in the recent elections has not woken it up and it still seems to be holding on to the family name. Rahul Gandhi’s tactics are doing no good either. To support or counter his effect, could not the party have thought of anybody better? If it has to stick to the family, how about only Priyanka Gandhi? She has a good image plus people draw parallels with Indira Gandhi.
It is high time the party thinks beyond the Gandhi tag, leave alone getting started on the Vadra track. When Sonia Gandhi renounced her prime ministership for Manmohan Singh, she became a hero overnight. Not only did she not have any duties of a prime minister, she enjoyed all the rights, many of which overruled that of the prime minister! If Rahul Gandhi is not able to get accepted by the people, how about bringing some other worthy candidates to the forefront? The Congress party has no dearth of such people. If, for example, Rahul Gandhi is seen as promoting worthy politicians of his age like Jyotiraditya Scindia or Sachin Pilot, while quietly working for the party, his and the Congress Party’s fortunes will change eventually. Even though the Gandhis are not seen clamouring for prime ministership, they are seen to be obsessed about being in power. Why this insecurity? If there is any place where their position is secure in spite of even bad performance, it is the Congress party. When Rahul Gandhi cannot be held accountable for the party’s worst performance in years in the 2014 elections, how can anything else bother them?
If the Gandhis are very sure that they are important for the Congress party, then they can and should prove it to everybody. They can let go of the party’s reins for some time. If the party falls apart, they will be brought back and everybody will understand their ‘need’. On the other hand, if the party succeeds, it would be good for everybody. In either case, it is a win-win situation for them. The point is the Gandhis need to ‘command’ respect and not ‘demand’ it. They need to prove it to the public that they are here for a reason. Only then would they be taken seriously.
On the other hand, if the Gandhis are convinced beyond doubt that they are indispensable to the party, and do not find worth their time to check this long concluded premise, the least it can do is re-visit its strategy. The Congress party needs to do its homework before taking drastic steps like the entry of Robert Vadra in politics. It is sad that the party is sending feelers that they have been compelled to take such a drastic step because of the BJP constantly targeting Robert and such a move will help Robert prove himself. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, do even the party cadres, leave alone the general public, buy this?
How about conducting a survey about people’s acceptance of Robert Vadra? The results could be an eye opener for the party though they would be a foregone conclusion for the others. The party needs to change Vadra’s image first. As of now, the people are not ready for the Congress party, leave alone Robert Vadra.
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)