A few weeks ago, I was caught in a debate with three ‘liberal’ journalist friends on how the media should deal with this creature called Rahul Gandhi. With the advent […]
A slew of articles have appeared recently in foreign press, including Time Magazine, Foreign Affairs and The Economist, on the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s leadership abilities. After the departure of Pranab Mukherjee from the finance ministry, the PM has taken over his original job. He is credited for having fathered the economic liberalisation process in India as finance minister in the 1990s. However, somewhere between the criticism and counter-criticism and the rhetoric on good and bad economics, people seem to have missed the original reason for the mess in the Singh government. One of the first agencies to criticise the government was Standard and Poor’s (S&P), which pointed out 10 reasons for a possible downgrading of India’s credit ratings. Five of these reasons were clearly political: divided leadership, Sonia Gandhi holding no cabinet position, an unelected PM who has no political base, his limited influence over the cabinet, and the Congress party being divided on economic policies.
ON THE last two days of the Rae Bareli campaign, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s arrival is a much awaited event in Unchahar, a rural Assembly seat in Sonia Gandhi’s constituency. A patient bunch waits by a tea stall at Sahebganj, where the roadshow will begin. They are discussing the grand rallies addressed by Sonia Gandhi, Rajnath Singh, and Akhilesh Yadav. All the VIPs were here to woo the most high-profile constituency in the country.
On 16 February Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally in Rae Bareli. Around 5,000 people gathered in the dusty field of Unchahar assembly seat to hear the son of their MP speak. At the same time, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a series of public meetings and roadshows in Rae Bareli city. Dozens waited along side the road to greet her. Contrast this to the rally organised by sitting MLA and Peace Party candidate Akhilesh Singh. Over 10,000 people from the city alone had gathered to listen to this former Congressman and four-time MLA who went on ranting and abusing the Nehru-Gandhi family.
On 9 February 2012, a day before second phase elections in Uttar Pradesh, Union Law Minister and a senior Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh (UP) Salman Khurshid made a claim in Muslim-majority Azamgarh that shocked his fellow Congressmen in Delhi. He said national party president Sonia Gandhi had wept when he showed her photographs of the victims of Batla House encounter. In September 2008, Batla House encounter took place in the neighbourhood of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia where two alleged terrorists from Azamgarh were killed. One of them was a student of Jamia. Repeated requests by civil society groups, university teachers as well as senior Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh and Khurshid for an investigation was turned down by Congress party’s own Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The party simply refused to take a clear position even as its own government calls it a genuine encounter.