Congress president Rahul Gandhi hugs Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his speech in the Lok Sabha on the no-confidence motion on Friday. Image Credit: PTI


  • The Gandhi family has been viscerally attacked by the Modi and Amit Shah.
  • Propaganda against them has been peddled on an industrial scale by the dirty tricks department of the BJP. 

Rahul Gandhi, fifth generation dynast and former president of the Congress party, remains an enigma to the Indian public and his own party.

Gandhi, by all accounts, is a thoughtful decent man despite going through a turbulent childhood, losing both his grandmother — former prime minister Indira Gandhi — and father Rajiv Gandhi, also a former prime minister.

Gandhi is also known across his party for having an inflexible obstinate streak and strong likes and dislikes. Post Jyotiraditya Scindia, who he describes as a “classmate who could walk inside my house” switching to the BJP, the murmurs after the Congress’s 2019 defeat are now growing to a crescendo.

Congress leaders still want to appear deferential in public, but most say Gandhi lacks the passion and appetite, which 24/7 politics in India shaped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi now entails.

The rarefied reaches of the highest politics in India, which prime ministerial aspirants (Gandhi is one) to, is war by other means. And Gandhi with his penchant for “meditation breaks” ever so often always abroad and always in secrecy is no longer seen as a serious contender against two-term prime minister Narendra Modi.

And with his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has had a stint as the longest-serving Congress president and now at the helm again, index linking the growth of “young leaders” such as Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, RPN Singh and the erstwhile Congress leader Scindia to her son’s progress, the prospects appear dismal for the party.

The Gandhi factor

Gandhi, post quitting as party president nearly 80 days ago, has been angry with his party for not giving him full support in his battle against Modi.

While Gandhi made “chowkidar chor hai” (the watchman is a thief) his battle cry against Modi, senior party leaders barely used it.

Gandhi has been refusing to meet party leaders ostensibly because he no longer is president, but actually virtually typifying “after me the deluge” in his rage against senior leaders and their failure to support him.

The young-old leader divide is tearing the Congress apart. And the Gandhis can’t seem to play neutral umpire or even give leadership as team Sonia is pitched against Team Rahul.

The Gandhi party ruled the Congress party for two reasons. First, Congress leaders believed that the Gandhi family won them elections — last evident in Sonia Gandhi’s UPA and, second, they were the glue that held the party together — which ambitious leaders would have torn apart in their fights for supremacy.

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Both these truisms don’t hold anymore and hence the Scindia switch. As day light shines into India’s oldest political party, no Gandhi family tricks appear magical anymore.

The Gandhi family has been viscerally attacked by Modi and Amit Shah. Propaganda against them has been peddled on an industrial scale by the dirty tricks department of the BJP. Rahul Gandhi is perhaps the only leader in India who can be counted upon to fight Modi - the one consistent politics he has practised as other leaders fall like dominoes to the BJP, which uses intimidation and coercion as tactics.

This is the singular reason why Gandhi is indispensable to the Opposition in India. Gandhi if he wants to play in the top league of Indian politics needs to completely reinvent himself and his party. Because as the BJP makes majoritarian politics normal, India needs an Opposition and a leader who can argue for the secular, constitutional inspired idea of India.

Currently, only Sonia Gandhi believes that her son can lead India. Rahul Gandhi needs to urgently convince India that he can fight hate politics. His relationship status with his party and voters is “it’s complicated”.

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