By Aakar Patel, in Rediff.Com, November 21, 2018
'There will be an instant and positive change in the way Rahul Gandhi is perceived by millions if he says he is not a candidate for PM,' suggests Aakar Patel.
Note: Weather you like it or not, only the humble is going to be exalted in the long run, because humility is the truth. No matter how great and powerful one is, all of us have something to learn from everybody else and therefore all are superior to us and are our masters in some things at least.
You don’t have to call it noble, ideal, spiritual, religious or Christian thinking. All other political formations can be equated with “cut-throat competetion of the market place” to capture the biggest stake, biggest gain, biggest profit for oneself.
It is also a fact that “Politics is one of the noblest profession” but only to the extent one is working for the greatest good of the greatest number of people, not when you want to capture the greatest good for yourself. That is crass selfishness. The first ones to see it through would be India’s illiterate masses. They may not dare to speak to the powerful, but they will just dump you in the dust bin of history when it comes to voting, with their one man/woman one vote weapon, without talking but acting in the privacy of the voting booth.
Compared to so-called great democracies like USA India may be an illiterate country. But it has now gone through so many national and state elections, and the Indian masses have the down to earth practical know-how, of umpteen number of political parties, and who among them work for the good of the poor and marginalized.
Of all the political parties – left, right and center – Congress had the longest rule, rather credible performance and an all India presence. That of course is now becoming a vanishing phenomenon under Sonia rule, due to lack of towering leaders and the advent of BJP with the war-cry for a “Congress-mukth Barath.”
One cardinal malaise that affects all political parties in India is that none of them is democratic, none of them practice internal democracy which prevents deserving persons to come up to leadership positions in all parties. All of them have now become so many business families due to the craze for dynastic rule. We seem to be going back to some 500 or more petty kingdoms which Patel with his tallest statue in the world is credited to have united.
Aam Aadmi Party
As a result I could never become a card carrying member of any political party, but did the one mistake of joining the Aam Aadmi party because of my long association with Anna Hazare and writing in support of him. But I corrected myself and cancelled my membership as soon as Kejriwal ousted Prasant and Santhibushans and Yogendra Yadav. But I always voted for honest candidates in all parties.
Modi the magic Leader
For BJP Narendra Modi is a matchless charismatic leader and a work-holic with gift of the gab and tall promises to win elections by hook or crook. Time was when Modi was a tsunami when he won the national elections, but not that kind of a force anymore. Some see him still as a hurricane or a storm in a tea cup.
So the opposition parties are trying to form a grand alliance since each one of them see themselves as Davids before a Giliath. But how can they. when each party boss wants to become the next PM? It is here that Rahul Gandhi’s name is much bandied about carefully and carelessly.
Basically he is a democrat without the gift of the gab. He even spoke of “power as poison” and is not too crazy for power. But will his mother, sister, his family and his fans good only to sing “Hosanna” to him allow him to do just what is capable of, is the big question. Writing about him, this scribe suggested many times in the past, that he should publicly and positively declare to be NOT a candidate for PM’s post in case the grand alliance wins.
If by chance the alliance wins and votes for him, all the better for hitting a lottery. To hark back to what we started with, it is in the anatomy of great awe-inspiring happenings in history that the crown runs away from the person like a shadow who chases to grab it by all meas and runs after the one who runs away from it. Is he capable of performing such a feat? I have a hunch that kind of thinking is lurking in him.
No better Leader?
Besides aren’t there many better qualified persons than him in the Congress for the job of a PM? In any case we think that a grand alliance would be doomed to fail if the parties are not ready to agree to choose the PM by vote in case the opposition wins the 2019 elections. That alone would be a victory and glory for Indian Democracy! Incidently, Aakar Patel, the writer of the article below also thinks in those terms. james kottoor, editor ccv.
Please read below the article by Aakar Patel in Rediff.Com
One of the sharpest talents of our prime minister is how he can frame an argument. He seems to bring something fresh and convincing when he takes up an ordinary subject.
Last week he responded to the Congress claim that he became prime minister only because of the system that Jawaharlal Nehru put in place.His response was to say: 'I want to challenge them… let some good leader of Congress outside the Gandhi family become the party president for only five years, then I will say that Nehruji really created a truly democratic system.'
One answer to that is that there was, of course, a non-Gandhi person who was PM for five years and that was P V Narasimha Rao, who was also prime minister.And after him, though for a shorter period, the Congress president was Sitaram Kesri.
Rahul is working untiringly for Modi
But the real point is that Narendra Damodardas Modi is right: the Congress is like a private limited company, where all the shares are held by one family.The Bharatiya Janata Party is like a public limited company where the stakes are shared among a much wider group of people, and where merit is more important than family ties.
You can fail often and still remain head of the Congress if you are a Gandhi.There is no pressure on him to perform. On the other hand if Modi does not lead his party to a decisive win in 2019, he will immediately face dissent and a challenge from inside. This is how it happens in all healthy political parties in a democratic framework.
And so what Modi has said about the Congress is a fact and it cannot be disputed. The question is whether his challenge or advice is worth following for the Congress as a party. I think it is.
And I do not think it needs to be exactly what Modi says, which is to say give up the party presidency. Even if Rahul Gandhi says he has no intention of becoming prime minister, he will bring credibility to himself and his party that is currently lacking among large parts of the population.
Sacrifice is one of the most powerful symbols in our society and someone who gives up power and possessions, as Mahatma Gandhi did, is automatically elevated in the public imagination.
Sonia Gandhi was able to transform her image in 2004, when she said the same thing after defeating the BJP.Those of us who are old enough to remember that time well will know how different her image was before that moment.
The current Congress president has often said that for him the political battle is about the kind of India that Hindutva is producing.He fears for the future because of the hatred and violence and wants better for his country.This is an admirable thing to say.
But if this change in direction of the country is the main thing that he is seeking, he should have no problem in setting his personal ambitions aside. At least for this election, if not forever.There is no lack of highly competent people in Congress to run things, in the event, however unlikely it may seem at the moment, that they will manage to win the election.
In fact it will help the Congress build an alliance if they approach other parties without personal ambition. It will bring great credibility to their idea of a national front if they say that the Gandhis are not interested in the office of power.
There will be an instant and positive change in the way Rahul Gandhi is perceived by millions if he says he is not a candidate for PM. And it will help his party also, because it will increase the stakes for outsiders, who will feel motivated to invest more time and effort and money in the party.It will become more of a public limited company and its long term future will become more secure.
I am not for one moment saying what I am because of any issues with Gandhi himself.I have never met him and he could well have it him to be a good or great leader.Certainly he has the right to run for whatever office he wants to because we are a democracy.
I am saying that he should consider what the PM has said positively.He should assess whether in taking up that challenge he helps his cause and his party. I think he does.
Of course, we must accept that the Gandhi family has sacrificed more for this nation than the leadership of any political party. Two of their leaders have been assassinated and for the family to remain in politics must take great courage and determination.They deserve respect, which they do not always get.
They are abused casually and easily by people like Modi without acknowledging what they have suffered.Would their prestige be restored by another act of sacrifice and renunciation? I think it would. (Aakar Patel — winner of the 2018 Prem Bhatia Award for Political Reporting — is Executive Director, Amnesty International India. The views expressed here are his own.)