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Can a hot headed, immature Rahul be India's PM?

October 04, 2013 12:08 IST

Can a hot headed, immature Rahul be India's PM?

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Renu Mittal

Mother Sonia Gandhi may have forced her son Rahul to express regret about his recent outrageous behaviour, but it has triggered a discussion both within the party as well as among the allies on whether the Congress vice president is really ready to become the prime minister. Renu Mittal reports

Rahul Gandhi and the embarrassment he caused to the Congress party simply refuses to die down, with the All India Congress Committee vice president now making amends for his harsh words and admitting that he was wrong in his choice of words but certainly not in the sentiments.

Mother Sonia Gandhi appears to have given her son Rahul a dressing down for making a public exhibition of the party and the government, and for giving the Bharatiya Janata Party an issue to attack the Congress.

Speaking to media persons in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Rahul said: “My mother told me that the words I used were very strong. In the hindsight, I feel may be my words were wrong, but the sentiment I felt was not wrong”.

“I spoke from the heart, I am entitled to voice my opinion,” Rahul said, adding that a large section of the party supported his stand.

Senior party leaders say it is clear from Rahul’s words that his mother asked him to almost apologize for the harsh words used by him, which undermined not only the authority of the party leadership -- that pushed the ordinance -- but also the entire cabinet and the prime minister which cleared the ordinance.

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Can a hot headed, immature Rahul be India's PM?

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Renu Mittal

The UPA allies are also up in arms against Rahul with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar speaking strongly in the Cabinet, while attacking the Congress vice president and the manner in which he forced the entire Cabinet to change a decision taken by him.

Non-Congress leaders are complaining that while the parliamentary system has been virtually destroyed, the Cabinet system is also now being destroyed.

The unilateral manner in which Rahul took the decision without consulting either the party or the government has angered the UPA allies, including National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Aggarwal who have also spoken against the manner in which the decision on the ordinance was changed.

They have demanded that the allies should be consulted before such decisions are taken in the government.

This is in sharp contrast to the manner in which Sonia would meet and speak to the allies before crucial decisions were taken and efforts were on in the initial days of the UPA to keep them in the loop.

It was Sonia who had personally met prospective alliance partners and brought them on board, which resulted in the UPA coming to power in 2004 and is still in power 10 years later.

Rahul, however, has been a strong votary of the ekla chalo (walk alone) philosophy and has time and again made the point that the Congress should get rid of its allies and make an attempt to come to power on its own. 

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Can a hot headed, immature Rahul be India's PM?

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Renu Mittal

Just as recently as last week Rahul repeated this thought in a closed meeting of Congress workers in Pune and singled out Pawar and the NCP, saying that the Congress should go it alone in the elections without the aid of allies.

Sources say that after the very voluble and very public display of his anger against the ordinance, which he has now called as “defending the indefensible”, neither the party nor the government could have afforded to ignore his sentiments as it would have meant undermining his position and authority within the Congress.

He has been officially designated as the number two in the party and for all intents and purposes it has been made clear that because he is a Gandhi he is the heir to the Congress and would be the next prime minister in the event that the party gets its numbers together and is in a position to form the government.

In such a scenario, both the party and the government were forced to succumb to his diktat and tear off the ordinance along with making it clear they would also withdraw the bill which has been introduced during the winter session of Parliament.

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Can a hot headed, immature Rahul be India's PM?

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Renu Mittal

Senior leaders say that while on the face of it, it means the coming of age of Rahul as the party and the government are forced to follow his diktat, it also on the other hand shows the lack of maturity while acting without understanding or realizing the full import of his actions.

To a large extent it has revealed him to be a hot headed, impulsive man who does not full deliberate on his actions and decisions before taking the plunge.

As one senior leader put it rather succinctly, “With this kind of temperament and attitude on display, is Rahul really ready to become the prime minister and will he be able to handle such a huge responsibility of heading the nation?”

This really is the moot point being discussed in the Congress, particularly behind closed doors.

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