The not-so-young man is finally angry. After a prolonged bout of silence and arguably some sleep, Rahul Gandhi was up and literally running towards the well of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, alleging that the voice of the opposition is being quelled. Gandhi's proactive charge took everybody by surprise and left many wondering why the Gandhi scion had suddenly found his angry voice.
According to the BJP, Rahul is irritated about the Congress being denied the post of Leader of the Opposition, but the problem may well be much deeper than that. Rahul's grip in the party is also slowly slipping. After being snubbed in the Lok Sabha, the grand old party has not really given space for genuine criticism. But voices of dissent, albeit slowly, have been talking about the leadership crisis in the party. Senior leader Natwar Singh's recently released “tell all” memoir also projected Rahul Gandhi as a weak person, who threw a fit when his mother was to become the Prime Minister of the country. In this context, Rahul needed an image makeover of sorts to become relevant again. So this is most likely a calibrated move to get into the limelight again.
One can say that the Gandhi scion should be cut some slack as he and his party are still smarting from their embarrassing defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. But statistics unfortunately don't lie. RaGa was strangely out of tune during the time his party was in power. According to data compiled by two NGOs, Rahul failed to ask a single question in the 15th Lok Sabha and his attendance was 43%. In addition, his attendance in the standing committees was a measly 13.6%. Standing committees are places where often suggestions related to crucial policy are given by opposition MPs. His dismal attendance there was a blatant indication of how little he cared for the opposition's view. Infact, apart from one memorable speech where he mentioned the Kalavati incident, Gandhi has done precious little in the last decade in Parliament. Thus, all his anger in the Lok Sabha frankly ends up looking like an act. The issue he chose to address, the matter of increasing communal incidents, has been used by Congress unsuccessfully against Modi in the past.
The fact of the matter is that branding Modi as having an over arching influence in governance is unlikely to discredit the Prime Minister. If anything, it will add to his supposed halo. If Rahul Gandhi really wants to get his act together, he should go back to the basics and try to build the organisation up from scratch. By casting aspersions on the Speaker, he is only demeaning the constitution and the Indian Parliament. If he truly wants to be a leader of the youth, he should try to start a new lexicon in politics.
The BJP was in a denial mode from 2004-09 and disrupted the government and the electorate didn't take to it too kindly. Just when the productivity of the Parliament is increasing, it looks like the rampaging opposition may put a spanner in the promised "acche din". There are sure better ways of becoming relevant, Mr Gandhi.