Thursday, July 7, 2016

Can Rahul Gandhi upstage Modi?

Since the Congress Party is pitching Rahul Gandhi firmly against Narendra Modi, it is assumed that in the next general elections (2019), he will be the prime ministerial candidate from INC. So a natural question often asked is if he can upstage Modi.

UK, Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill, Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, India, Politics, PT education, PT's IAS Academy, Sandeep Manudhane, MBA entrance, IAS
What? This is what they give me for winning the second world war for them? Atrocious. 

Clement Attlee won against Winston Churchill who had just won the second World War for Britain. Strangest things can happen in politics, just when the incumbent thinks it's all settled. The collective consciousness of the voters is a notoriously fickle animal, loyal to no one.

Rahul Gandhi too can beat Mr. Modi politically. Here's how I think it can happen-

  • Don't denigrate him, Upgrade yourself - Instead of finding faults with Modi and the BJP, Rahul's primary strategy now must be to upgrade his own positive communication. He has never run a Ministry or a Department in executive capacity. It’s easy to criticise others when you haven’t been in those shoes. He should accept this cardinal truth. And then, don the mantle of a serious CEO for some party project (as of now), to have the seed of positivity develop within. India can do well with more positive and dynamic leaders.
  • Take responsibility beyond tokenism - Not letting final responsibility for any failure land at the Gandhis' doorstep has become Congress's trademark strategy. But it cannot go on for ever. As we can see after every state elections, it is turning out to be a very bad idea. Leadership is not a pick-and-choose job; you get atop the horse into the battle all guns blazing. If it's death, so be it. Congress is losing a lot of voter base due to this. Rahul should take the lead in puncturing the protective shield. When defeated, he must come out (not smiling but with a sad face) and say he’ll try much harder the next time.
  • Stop patronising Indians - Modi treats his audience with tremendous respect. Yes, he plays to the gallery often, but in style. Rahul probably assumes they have no handle on world affairs. Even in elite colleges, the communication is beyond belief - it feels his speech-writers assume it’s still 1991 or 1981. In this age and time, he must reinvent. He'll gain immediate respect. He really needs to work on communication skills (beyond fluent Hindi and English), by becoming truly focused on what the youth want to hear. Technically correct stuff.
  • Study a lot - Rahul needs depth. No Prashant Kishore, Jyotiraditya or Digvijay Singh can do it for him (all of them tremendously talented). In politics today, standards have risen very fast (at least at the national level). Educated people who may be opinion leaders in media will give him traction if he improves. He should learn from Modi, who despite lacking the urban finesse in English, cracks it everytime.
  • Lead from the front - If you really want people to take you seriously, do what you say. Avoid the drama, get your hands dirty. Avoid bootlickers, get real taskmasters. Avoid the past, talk of the future. Rahul has the huge disadvantage of an elite pedigree. He needs to work double-hard. When you pull Modi down saying jobs haven’t been created, do tell us how you would have done it practically.

The BJP assumed it would be a cake-walk in 2004 when the Shining India campaign did them in. Nothing is permanent, at least not in the shifting sands of Indian politics. If Rahul truly harbours the dream of becoming India’s PM one day, and if he really does become the PM after 2019 or 2024, he will desperately need the above skills. The image below is from 2014, before the results came in.

I have not written on the standard line of argument - allegations of corruption etc. - because every single Party in India has its share of Netas for whom corruption is not anathema. That will change with time.


Utkarsh Singh said...

There is no image displayed at the end.

Aniket Gurav said...

Nice blog sir... it is true that nothing is permanent in politics. When Indira Gandhi was a newcomer, she was often ridiculed as 'Gungi Gudiya' but soon she turned out to be 'Durga'. Rahul also need to understand himself first. He needs to empty his cup.

Unknown said...

Rise to the occasion and exert his energy through grass root level it is worth mentioning here Sonia Gandhi must shoulders him any responsibility (ministry)

Aditya Rane said...

I agree that nothing in politics is stable, but the aspiring candidate
should be stable and clear on his views,opinions & commitments with their voters. He should fulfil all the leadership qualities required to run the entire nation unitedly. For this one must communicate openly from his heart to the masses about what is his vison for developing future of the country and what can he do about improving the quality of life for the people of India. Lastly according to me "A man who keeps things in his mind is a politician while one who expresses it clearly and openly is a true leader". Hence I think the aspiring leader of the Congress for position of P.M have a long way to go.