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Rahul Gandhi in a new 'angry young man' avtar

New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has always been taunted for not being aggressive enough either inside or outside Parliament. Natwar Singh, the acolyte-turned-critic of Gandhi family, recently went on to say that Rahul lacked
Raj Singh August 06, 2014 19:33 IST
Raj Singh
New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has always been taunted for not being aggressive enough either inside or outside Parliament. Natwar Singh, the acolyte-turned-critic of Gandhi family, recently went on to say that Rahul lacked fire in his belly that is required to conquer the tough terrains of politics.

It seems that Rahul Gandhi has finally taken these criticisms seriously and has decided to go for a complete makeover.

The ruckus that was created by Rahul Gandhi led Congress in Lok Sabha today clearly hinted at the advent of a new Rahul Gandhi who has decided to shed all pretensions of maintaining decorum in parliament.

In Lok Sabha, senior leaders normally do not move into well. Rahal Gandhi may not be a senior leader in terms of age and experience but he is definitely a senior leader because he is Congress vice president, the number 2 in the party and the undeclared PM candidate of India's grand old party. Therefore, he is also expected to behave like a senior leader in Lok Sabha and to be fair to him, his behavior in parliament did not invite complaint from any side in the past.

But things have changed now for Rahul. When Rahul entered Lok Sabha for the first time in 2004, Congress party had stormed back to power after a long time. Since he belonged to treasury benches, he never had to confront the government. This is for the first time that Rahul is sitting in opposition in the Lok Sabha and his party expects him to lead the attack on the ruling dispensation. But moving into the well? Why did Rahul do that?

Actually, Rahul's metamorphosis is not an overnight phenomenon. It was being planned for some time. There has been a feeling among the rank and file of the Congress party, like what Natwar Singh said, that Rahul Gandhi lacks the intent and aggression required of an opposition leader to lead from the front. And that there is an urgent need for Rahul to change himself.

The outright rejection of the Congress party in 2014 Lok Sabha elections encouraged some of the Congress leaders to vent their anger against Rahul who was leading the LS campaign with his own set of handpicked advisors. Those who attacked Rahul included Bhawar Lal sharma, TH Mustafa, Gufrain  Azam, Digvijay singh and Milind Deora. Congress leader Jagmeet singh Brar went to the extent of advising Sonia and Rahul to go on leave for two years. Many other Congress leaders advised Rahul to shed his perceived indifference and to get more active.

Rahul Gandhi faced more embarrassment when he was caught napping in the Lok Sabha when a serious discussion on price rise was going on. Not only Rahul  but the entire Congress party was embarrassed by this incident.

Even Janardan Dwivedi, the family loyalist, is reported to have advised Rahul Gandhi that if he fails to become more active and lead from the front then things may slip out of hand.

Rahul Gandhi seems to have finally decided to respond to the mounting criticism of his lacking the requisite fire in his own ‘angry young man' style.  His changed approach in Lok Sabha was a clear signal of the advent of  a new Rahul Gandhi who has made up his mind to lead his party from the front.

If Congress sources are to be believed then Rahul Gandhi has also advised his MPs not to get disheartened by party's tiny presence in Lok Sabha. He has advised his MPs not to lose any opportunity of attacking the government.  He is of the opinion that the party should take on the government more aggressively in Rajya Sabha where it  has good presence and the ruling BJP lacks majority in that house. The very fact that Rahul Gandhi has started strategizing is a big piece of news because till now he was looked upon as totally “indifferent” to issues like formulating floor strategy in parliament.

Whether Rahul should have entered the well of House or not is a separate debate but the very fact that he looked in command of his party in LS today must have boosted the morale of his party MPs and cadre.

His journey from a ‘non-charismatic leader' who was caught napping in parliament on a serious debate to an aggressive leader who moved into the well accusing government of suppressing the voice of opposition must be music to the ears of the Congress leaders who were waiting for this day for quite a long time.

This is bound to give more teeth to the Congress party in attacking the government in parliament and the Congress MPs will now feel emboldened to take on the government more effectively. This will definitely boost the morale of Congress workers across the country who had lost all hopes from Rahul and were pinning their hopes  at Priyanka to show them the way.

This is definitely a new avtar of Rahul Gandhi. And he has tried to present himself as ‘angry young man' of India's GoP.

The next logical step for him will be to take up the challenge of leading the party in Lok Sabha. Let all the inhibitions vanish at one go. Let the Lok Sabha have an effective Leader of Opposition who is not nominated but is the natural and first choice of the members of  largest opposition group in the house.