Politics is not a strong pull, the people are saying Rahul Gandhi has been president-in-waiting for long. It’s been a tough few years for the Congress.
Long gone are the days of Nehru, Indira and even Rajiv. Even the surprise that Sonia and Manmohan pulled in 2009 seems so long ago. Many people in this country think that the Gandhis are the all-powerful clan of the Congress. Most people are wrong.
They’re not all-powerful in a party of satraps from Punjab to Karnataka, from Assam to Kerala, but they are the Chief arbitrating authorities, without whom the 2nd rung dynasts would struggle to tolerate each other.
Rahul’s task is cut out for him, for long a politician in training, he’s fighting the lowest of political lows while trying to reform a party with younger faces when the older faces still feel that either their service must be rewarded, or that they still have much to offer.
Sonia is unwell, she’s done her service; the time of Rahul, at least officially, is nigh. Now rumour has it that after Diwali, Rahul will take on the reins. That gives him about 18 months before he must face India again. But before that comes the battle for Karnataka, whose Congressmen and women want Priyanka Gandhi to come and campaign for them.
Whether she feels the pull strongly enough this time, is not yet known. There is no other credible opposition nationally for the Modi juggernaut, nor is there likely to emerge. The best bet Nitish is already in the NDA; Mamata strong at home is non-existent outside.
So what happens in the next few days and weeks in the Congress have a strong bearing on what happens to India. Critics of the Congress will say, the Gandhi and/or Gandhi debate is a typification of dynastic rule. They won’t be wrong. But who else could lead the Congress? Can we comprehend that? Are there any covert pretenders to the throne?