Rahul Gandhi’s self-promotion yatra
Posted January 27, 2010on:
AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to Madhya Pradesh has at best served as an exercise in self-aggrandisement. If the aim was to rejuvenate the Congress organisation or its wings, like the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) or National Students Union of India (NSUI), there is no evidence to suggest that the purpose has been achieved.
The visit has, rather, generated a controversy which is neither in the interest of the Congress organisation nor of Rahul Gandhi himself. The Madhya Pradesh government has sought an explanation from the authorities of the Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (Indore University) as to how a leader of the Congress party was invited to have interaction with the students and faculty members.
The Indore University vice-chancellor, Dr Ajit Singh Sehrawat, has come up with a facetious explanation that Rahul Gandhi was invited as a “youth icon”. A chartered accountant of Haryana, Sehrawat was appointed vice-chancellor of the Indore University by Dr Balram Jakhar, then Governor of Madhya Pradesh and Chancellor of the State’s universities.
Equally amusing is the explanation of the Congress leaders that Rahul Gandhi was invited to the Indore University and other educational institutions in Gwalior, Jabalpur and Bhopal not as the leader of a political party but as a Member of Parliament.
It prompted BJP leader Anil Madhav Dave to retort that he (Dave) is also a Member of Parliament and, as such, will like to be invited for interaction to various institutions including Laxmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior, Dr Harisingh Gour University, Sagar and Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal — these three are under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Madhya Pradesh clearly had a political agenda. It was for revitalising the NSUI and the Youth Congress. Gandhi had stated that his tour was funded by the Congress party. But he seemed to be spending all his time with the educated elite. The NSUI, which had ostensively organised his Madhya Pradesh tour, or the Youth Congress hardly figured in his itinerary.
He, though, did visit the PCC office in Bhopal, where he had an “interaction” with Congress activists handpicked by PCC chief Suresh Pachauri. Many old party loyalists had come from far away places to have a word with the AICC general secretary but they could not get through the SPG-Suresh Pachauri cordon. He virtually snubbed Pachauri by asking him to accept that defeat is defeat, whether by a big margin or a small margin and that the Congress had suffered defeat because of the disunity in the organisation. It was when Pachauri had tried to enumerate the “achievements” of the Congress in the past couple of years.
Madhya Pradesh is one of the worst administered States. The law and order situation is continuing to deteriorate. The atrocities on the dalits and the adivasis are steadily on the increase. The State government is not able to utilise the Central funds, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s clamours for more Central assistance notwithstanding. Even the funds that are utilised are not necessarily used for the purpose for which these are meant. Corruption is rampant. Chauhan has emerged as the saviour of the corrupt and the dissolute. (Recently an IAS officer, part of Chauhan’s inner coterie, was beaten up by the fellow passengers for indulging in raunchy activities with his girlfriend in an AC coach of the Bhopal Express).
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the Centre’s most prestigious pro-poor programme, is marred by massive corruption. Complaints, by scores, are made to the Central government. C.P.Joshi, the minister concerned, forwards these complaints to Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Does Joshi expect Chauhan to act against his protégés? There were rumours — and there can only be rumours in such cases — that a major part of Lal Krishna Advani’s Rs 250-crore media campaign during the Lok Sabha elections was financed by Chauhan out of the Central funds allocated to the State for welfare schemes.
The people’s disenchantment with the BJP regime was evident during the Assembly, Lok Sabha and municipal elections. The people voted against the BJP at a large number of places in spite of the hamstrung Congress organisation. Pachauri has never been a mass leader and does not want any other leader with a mass base around him.
Rahul Gandhi is apparently aware of the weaknesses of the Congress organisation. The Youth Congress and the NSUI have only nominal presence in Madhya Pradesh. Once Mahila Congress was quite active in the State but one hardly hears about it these days. Rahul Gandhi’s interactions with the educated elite may or may not enhance his self-importance but it is not helping the Congress party, or any of its front organisations. Rahul lacks the spontaneity of his father who, particularly in the later years, had really become a darling of the masses. Rahul’s grandmother, too, always relished meeting as many party workers as possible during her visits to various places. The target audience of both, Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, was the people at large. Rahul Gandhi’s regimented interactions are not likely to catapult him into a mass leader.