He is the voice of the downtrodden in the capital. He has a shy demeanour and perfect manners, which earn him the top spot in the country’s ‘hottest politician’ and ‘most eligible bachelor’ list. He is the dynamic - Rahul Gandhi! Blessed with a charismatic aura, the Gandhi scion is seen as the next prime minister of our country.
A latest poll conducted by a news magazine last month showed that 29 percent of Indians want Rahul to be the future prime minister (at the second place was the incapacitated Atal Behari Vajpayee).
The new face of India’s ruling Congress party and heir to Asia’s foremost political dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, was born on June 19, 1970. Rahul had a cloistered childhood, because of security threats after the assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi in 1984 and father Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. As mentioned on the Govt of India website, his educational qualifications include an M.Phil. in Development Economics from Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK. He then worked with the management guru, Michael Porter’s Management consulting firm, Monitor Group for three years.
Although a prominent political figure, Rahul largely remains an enigma. He is an interesting topic for the media because of the balanced profile he maintains, which reflects his desire not to overstep his authority. But he has become more and more outspoken on many major issues. For example he was vocal in his support to the PM on the controversial Indo-US nuke deal.
On the personal front, Rahul isn’t close to anyone other than his immediate family members and a few friends. It is said that his bonding with sister Priyanka is quite unusual - perhaps due to their closeted childhood when access to the outside world was limited.
The young man has taken up a painstaking discovery of India. In the last few years, no other politician has made such efforts to gain first-hand knowledge of how India works. But Rahul has traversed through the country, many times on incognito trips, setting examples for others to follow.
Unfazed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s vitriolic remarks, Rahul Gandhi along with Britain’s ex-foreign secretary, David Miliband, spent a night at Dalit basti in Amethi with the poor. He often shares meals with Dalits,m nearly setting off a political trend.
“When Rahul Gandhi goes to the home of a Dalit to share a meal, Mayawati’s stomach starts itching!” shouted one speaker at a rally.
He certainly has that spark which makes him stand out from the crowd of other young parliamentarians like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who too have a novel political outlook.
Though cynics may have cast some doubts over his leadership quality, his victory in the UP is the best example for anyone to assess his merits. He actually turned the tide in this state known for its castiest polity.
He roared in the lions’ den by challenging the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. The latter issued a command to his supporters to greet Rahul with black flags during his Mumbai visit to protest his “Mumbai for all Indians” remark. But Rahul in his typical unassuming way, hopped on to a local train at Dadar, became a part of the local crowd and won the hearts of Mumbaikars and other Indians in various parts of the country.
For most of the politicians, Rahul’s Mumbai episode was not only a lesson, but also an indicator of his acumen and his flair for out-of-the-box thinking.
A ray of hope
Rahul has emerged as a beacon of hope for many people watching the rapid development of the world’s greatest democracy. Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to bring transparency in the political system by recruiting the youth brigade in strategic posts have won him wide praise.
He has recruited as many as 10 million new youth members. He pushes for younger players in politics to oversee the internal elections in the party organisations unlike other party bosses, who pick their choice. He believes that bringing educated and business-savvy young people into politics will revolutionise governance.
“The future belongs to the youth of India,” said Rahul.
In sharp contradiction to his family background, Rahul finds dynastic rule undemocratic, but at the same time recognises that it is a fact in India. He once said in a political rally near Bathinda, “Elect me and my friends and we will dismantle the dynastic political system that we represent”.
The reason behind the rise of this young Gandhi scion is his think-tank, which comprises varied group of advisors.
His connect with the grassroots man is something India has rarely seen in a politician. He is certainly looked as a leader who is focussing on the issues left behind rather than just talking about the economic growth. People feel he conjures up the picture of his father Rajiv Gandhi.
Recently, the young scion went to Tappal village, the epicentre of peasants’ protest demanding enhanced compensation for land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway. He assured demonstrators about his full support and vowed to assist them in their struggle for justice.
With such endeavours, he has successfully created the image of an easily approachable leader for the common man.