Congress preisident Sonia Gandhi’s rare interview to journalist Rajdeep Sardesai proved to be an exercise in futility. The utter pointlessness of the interview was set up at the very outset. That she would only speak about her equation with her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi. She wouldn’t discuss politics, she wouldn’t talk about the future course of Congress party, that has a tally of mere 44 seats in the Lok Sabha and continues to lose power to the BJP across the country.
But then invoking past glory is always easier than addressing current problems. True it was about Indira Gandhi’s birth centenary.
But the refusal to address the question and who from the party will eventually take forward her legacy and uplift Congress from the current mess it finds itself in, is quite cowardly. Further, she comes across someone very old and very complacent, refusing to engage with current generation.
Refusal to take her share of blame in propagating dynasty politics
The Gandhi family has always been accused of propagating dynasty politics. In the interview she simply refuses to take this criticism. She shrouds it in the cloak of an abstract sentiment like “love for the country”.
Congress has had a history of crushing powerful regional satraps. The way Jagan Reddy, a hugely popular leader following the death of YSR Reddy was treated, is testimony to the fact that Gandhis have an allergy towards strong leaders. And what is the result? The party is stuck with someone like Rahul Gandhi, who is seemingly uncomfortable with politics, who barely can speak two untutored lines, who has a limited political vocabulary that doesn’t go beyond catch phrases like “suit book ki sarkaar, ameero ki sarkaar”and who goofs up way to often to be taken seriously. His intentions might be right, but then you need a certain skill set, a certain acumen to be in a profession.
Constant faith in Rahul Gandhi, despite his lacklustre performance
Her constant reference to the values her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi stood for and her refusal to address questions on Rahul Gandhi and Congress’ future are the reasons the youth of this country doesn’t feel connected to Congress.
In the interview Mrs Gandhi doesn’t acknowledge the lack of next round of leadership in her party. Instead, she tries to build an almost funny argument to defend the absolute power that the family has enjoyed in the party since the beginning of times. Her argument that sons and daughters of engineers and doctors often choose to pursue the profession practiced by their father is too lame. Politics is not any other profession. And you are just not a party member. You have been the absolute leader of a party for close to 30 years. A leader’s job is not to train his/her kid to grow up to take their position but to discover new talent, sustain new talent and nurture new talent.
We wonder, how many young leaders in her party Mrs Gandhi can name in one go, who she has mentored to takeup bigger and greater roles.
In fact in a slant reference to Indira Gandhi’s “gungi gudiya” days when she was made fun of by her own party members, she almost tries to equate it with the ridicule Rahul faces from his opponents.
If she really meant to compare the two, as I understand it to be, she is completely mistaken. Indira Gandhi had taken important roles right from the beginning of her political life and she fought for her share of power unlike Rahul Gandhi who has been served everything on a platter.
In fact a special post called Vice President was created for him in 2013 just to give him more time to prepare for the ultimate role of President.
Complacency and refusal to self-introspect
Her interview was so inconsequential that after a point Sardesai struggled to ask relevant questions. How many questions can you after all ask a daughter-in-law about her mother-in-law. However, you can ask many questions to the President of the main Opposition party of the country, many difficult questions which Sonia Gandhi has always refused to address.
When the anchor says: “Modi is often seen as a strong leader like Indira Gandhi,” she responds with a curt “There is no comparison”. However, she fails to answer the question who in her party can counter Narendra Modi today. The only thing she said about the dismal electoral performance of Congress is “in politics you lose and you win.”
The complacency of the statement couldn’t be more stark. When you have been at the helm of affairs since 1998, led the worst debacles of your political career and yet retain your job, there is hardly any need for self-introspection.
You can watch the whole interview here: