The Bold Voice of J&K

Rahul Gandhi is back with a bang, maybe

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Kalyani Shankar 

Will Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi seize the moment that has come his way after his return from the mysterious sabbatical? This is the question being asked by many within the Congress. Gandhi’s partymen are not quite sure how determined or serious he is about his future. What is the guarantee, after all, that he will not disappear again?
After a long time, Gandhi has hit the front pages for the right reason. Perhaps, it will take many such speeches and convincing sound bytes, like the ones he gave recently on the land Bill and Net neutrality debate, to make his partymen believe in his metamorphosis into a serious leader. Congress workers are sceptical about his intentions but are still open to giving him a second chance.
Gandhi’s admirers believe that he made an impressive show in Parliament on the land Bill and Net neutrality debates. He appeared in a new form. After wasting almost an year since the fall of the Congress in 2014, Gandhi came into his ‘angry young man’ Avatar, and tried to take on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
His aggressiveness has confused the BJP and its allies. They do not know how to handle the new Gandhi – should they continue to ridicule him or should they take him seriously and respond?
One thing is certain: Gandhi seems remarkably confident. In Parliament and outside, he has been quick to make up for lost time. If he continues like this, his party will be enthused.
Gandhi came into his new avatar with the farmers’ rally on 19th April, which became the base for his re-launch. The next day he made a scathing attack on the Modi Government in Parliament, calling it a Suit-Boot Ki Sarkar.
There was confidence, a punch, much humor, eloquence and substance in Gandhi’s speeches. He left the BJP gaping, when he made that tongue-in-cheek remark, “Desh ke pradhan mantri aapke Pradhan Mantri nahi hain”. Right or wrong, his criticism that the Modi Government favours the corporates is sinking in the minds of the public. It is a vote-catching issue, as farmers make up 65 per cent of the population.
This was followed by yet another impressive performance in Parliament when Gandhi spoke on Net neutrality. He took up the issue, which has been making news among the 24.31 crore Net users. Indian youths are among the most tech-savvy, with a total of 11.20 crore Facebook users, nearly seven crore WhatsApp users and 2.20 crore Twitter users. India is the second largest smart phone market globally . What better way to woo the youth than take up this issue?
Still, there are many challenges before Gandhi. He should continue with the new momentum he has created. He is planning a countrywide kisan padayatra and perhaps, will try to connect with the people. But what will he offer to the people? Mere padayatras will not help. He has to come up with solutions like a second Green Revolution.
The Gandhi scion has to chalk out an agenda for himself and the party. How long can he continue with the image of an angry young man? Also, there are rumours that he will take over as the party’s president. What are his new ideas to rejuvenate the party?
How will he woo the young voters, who have voted for Modi? How will he get back the urban middle class voters? The latter are not enthused by the ‘Congress-speak’ of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. They want something concrete.
Urban India voters are waiting for Modi to deliver and they are getting impatient. The question is: Will Gandhi be able to make use of their disenchantment? Only time will tell.
India needs Gandhi’s leadership qualities, not his dynastic credentials. The Congress scion has to do much more than just making speeches and undertaking padayatras. He should be a leader who can lend his voice on issues and take up the cause of down-trodden and the weak.
Gandhi also has to spell out his vision for the country, his views on the economy, foreign policy and strategic issues. Above all, he needs to dispel the doubts that linger about the consistency of his new commitment.

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