M A I N   N E W S

Rahul takes centrestage in Congress
Presses for discipline, accountability & decentralisation of power in maiden speech as party V-P
KV Prasad/TNS

Jaipur, January 20
A generational change occurred today in the Indian National Congress with a galaxy of seniors and next generation leaders witnessing the transition and reposing faith in Rahul Gandhi as the party’s new vice-president at the All-India Congress Committee session here.

The Rise of Rahul 

1970: Rahul, a fourth-generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, is born. Initially, seen as a shy man whose interests lay more in cricket matches and the outdoors than in political life

2004: Enters politics just before the 2004 General Election, takes many by surprise. Wins from Amethi and becomes a Lok Sabha MP

2007: Raises his political profile rapidly, gets the position of Congress general secretary. The youth icon is widely credited with bringing young faces in the Congress at the grass-roots level

2009: Brings the most unexpected cheer to the Congress in the LS poll. Helps it bag 21 out of the 80 seats in UP

2013: Becomes the Congress vice-president and No. 2 to Sonia Gandhi. Projected as the future PM, the 43-year-old faces the daunting task of galvanising the Congress ahead of 2014 elections 

Three decades after Rajiv Gandhi took responsibility in the party, his 43-year-old son assumed the second-in-command position to Congress president and mother Sonia Gandhi much like his father did by entering politics to assist his mother Indira Gandhi.

Acknowledging he was assuming a huge responsibility, the young leader declared: “The Congress party is now my life. The people of India are my life and I will fight for the people of India and for this party... I invite all of you to stand up and take on this fight. “

Besides this commitment, Rahul Gandhi did some straight talking in his 40-minute address to the assembly that included the higher echelons of the party and delegates of the Youth Congress and the National Students of India who cheered every word of a person who was their general secretary till this elevation.

The words were simple and the speech frank and straight. Rahul said the young and educated feel today alienated from the political class since decisions were being taken by those who were far removed from the people.

The people are angry because they are alienated from the political class and watch from the sidelines as the powerful drive in `Lalbattis (official cars with beacon lights). Advocating the need for including the aam aadmi in politics, he said even as he spoke future of the common people is being decided in closed-door meetings.

Reiterating and echoing the sentiments of the Congress president at the opening of the Chintan Shivir, he said the young were becoming more aspirational and sought to know why they were angry and out on the streets protesting.

Providing his understanding, he said it was because only a handful of people control the political space and power highly centralised. Women suffer because their voice is being trampled upon by people who have arbitrary powers over their lives and the poor are confined to the state because decision affecting their lives is being taken by those who are answerable to them only in theory. Rahul assured party members that he would be a judge and treat everybody, including seniors, on an equal scale.

The frankness with which he went on was reflective of his father Rajiv’s famous speech at the 1985 Congress Centenary Celebrations where he spoke of the need to free the party from the clutches of power brokers. Advocating a complete transformation of system, he said today it is designed to keep people with knowledge out and promote mediocrity. “Mediocrity dominates discussion while the voice of insight and thought is crushed by loudness of those who have neither the understanding nor compassion… success in this system does not come through excluding and holding people back.”

Turing to the organisation, he identified the need to respect workers and leaders and not shy away from telling them in case they do not work. He also criticised the absence of any rules and regulations in the party, election-eve ‘para-trooper’ tendency to induct people from other parties who have no commitment and leave after losing polls. The approach of the local leadership suggestion being ignored in allocating tickets was another bane.

Rahul favoured governance be decentralised with Panchayati Raj at the village level. The party, he said, should have a pool of leaders at the national and state level who can assume responsibility when required.

Today’s session also saw several young leaders, be it Gidderbha MLA Amarinder Singh ‘Raja’ Brar from Punjab or Youth Congress leader from Poonch, J&K Mohammed Shah Nawaz or Himmal Singh narrate how Rahul Gandhi’s system NSUI and IYC enabled ordinary people with no political lineage to be here in leadership positions.





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