As the drama over government formation in Karnataka continues, there is one leader conspicuously missing. It is Rahul Gandhi. He has not spoken to the media or been spotted with his state leaders. Even after the North-East verdict, Gandhi went silent and was critcised for his ill-timed foreign trips.
ThePrint asks: Rahul Gandhi’s disappearances during political crises – clever or cowardly?
Rahul Gandhi has no merit, but strangely he gets rediscovered as a ‘good leader’
National Spokesperson, BJP
It is anything but clever and tactical. The way Rahul Gandhi has conducted himself only shows that it is a case of sour grapes. His leadership shows no merit. He has been given multiple chances, which the public doesn’t do often.
Every time, for some strange reason, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal act in a similar fashion. Both often fail the people, but strangely, end up getting rediscovered and re-established as ‘good leaders’. Certain people, perhaps with vested interests, keep propping them up saying that they have meritorious qualities which they don’t.
These people keep trying to add new imagery to them. It’s like an opposite karmic cycle. Here every time you fail, you are rewarded with a newer image perception.
India, however, is changing fast. The people are changing, their approach, and their expectations are changing. Despite that, Rahul Gandhi’s party and these vested sections of society aren’t willing to see the faults in his leadership.
People are unkind to talented people for making small gaffes. Rahul Gandhi seems to be forgiven for everything by his group of admirers.
We must realise not everyone is cut out to be a leader. Moreover, leadership in India is a very complicated thing. You have to occupy the mind space of the people. You have to enjoy their faith and confidence. You can’t be a privileged being and yet expect people to have affection for you. Accountability needs to be established.
State Congress leaders & members consistently in touch with Rahul Gandhi
Madhu Goud Yaskhi
National spokesperson, Congress
At the outset, this question is ridiculous.
Rahul Gandhi is the national president of the Congress party. Everything that is now happening in Karnataka is under his direction. Every party has a structure — the national president, the state president, general secretaries and so on. Rahul Gandhi has always acted as a key advisor and guide for all of us.
The state Congress leaders and other prominent members are consistently in touch with him. He is the one who directs them.
How can we expect him to be at all places at once? Today, he is in Chhattisgarh. Are you saying that his visit is not an important one?
How you can you ask such an unreasonable question? Does anyone ever question Modi? A nine-year-old girl has died in Surat, his hometown. Will you ask him to please speak on it?
In Uttar Pradesh, 49 people died in the sandstorm. The Varanasi bridge collapse claimed 18 lives. Why not ask Yogi Adityanath what he was doing in Karnataka instead?
Or are these parameters only set for Rahul Gandhi and not other leaders? Expectation from all should be the same. It is unfair and unprofessional to ask such a question. It seems like something the BJP would do, not a media organisation.
Rahul Gandhi is mostly dribbler & rarely captain in the game
Sukhbir Singh Badal
President, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)
The problem with Rahul Gandhi is that he does not know how and when to lead from the front. Most of the times, he is the dribbler in the game and rarely the captain. In every political battle, Rahul dribbles for a while and then simply gets out to the rest stand.
Right now, if he feels his party is in a crisis, he should realise that the players in the field are looking up to the captain to take the lead. But he is missing from the playground totally. His men are, as a result, doing whatever they think they need to individually.
And that is not how games are won. We have a bypoll here in Punjab on the 28th. I am stationed in the constituency with my candidate till voting day. I don’t have the luxury of sitting it out in Delhi, thinking ‘it is just one seat, so how does it matter’.
The mere presence of the captain in the playground can make a difference to the morale of the men he/she is leading. Rahul Gandhi is not a hands-on politician. In politics, you have to be available, all the time. And as the leader of a party, you should have the ability to think on your feet and take quick decisions.
Also, the leader should have the courage to take risks. Rahul Gandhi’s understanding of the situation is generally academic and theoretical or completely off the mark. He also lacks the ability to work hard and does not persist with what he is doing. Simply put, he has very few qualities as a leader of men and masses.
Today’s Rahul Gandhi not a leader to run away from crises
MP, Shiv Sena
I don’t think our country’s significant political leaders run away from their responsibilities. Rahul Gandhi is our political opponent, but an able one. He doesn’t run away. Some people in this country have adopted a political strategy to deliberately underestimate Rahul Gandhi at all times and damage his image.
Rahul Gandhi did a good job campaigning in Karnataka. He did not fall short anywhere in his efforts to campaign for his party in the state. We were saying this then and we will say this again: If Siddaramaiah had not indulged in caste-based politics with this whole issue of a separate identity for the Lingayats, and managed to contain his ego a bit, the Congress would have definitely won more seats in the state.
I am not aware of Rahul Gandhi’s whereabouts today. However, the way things have been, I can confidently say that he is not a leader to run away from crises. Things may have been different earlier, before 2014, but that is the past. Today, he is a politician who can lead his party and can counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Wrong to assume Rahul has disappeared just because he’s not on TV
The question asked is provocative, but it is also reflective of prejudice. Let me ask, if Rahul has ‘disappeared’, then where are Modi and Amit Shah ? They are not seen either. Are they cowardly?
The fact of the matter is that the BJP lost badly in Karnataka. They could not get the requisite numbers despite the ani-incumbency against the Congress. What happened to the tall claims of Amit Shah? Why is it being ignored that, in Karnataka, Rahul is more popular than Modi?
The BJP could get only 37 per cent of the vote while the Congress won 38 per cent. If one subtracts the Reddy brothers’ votes in the Ballari region, Modi’s number will be much less. Why not debate this point? If the BJP was so confident of Modi’s charisma, why did it need the support of the Reddy brothers? Why did it have to admit Yeddyurappa to the party and project him as the chief ministerial candidate despite the taint of corruption?
In the larger fight between Modi and Rahul, the latter suffers from the inherent prejudice of the intellectual class.
Rahul is the party president, but it is still assumed that every move of the Congress in the last three days has been made without his consent or not in consultation with him. It is assumed that Rahul had no say in the Congress proposal to support the JD(S) and Kumaraswamy. Or when the Congress knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court at midnight. This is absurd. It is wrong to assume that just because he is not seen on TV, is not giving bytes to cameras, he has disappeared.
Since he became the Congress president, the party has shown more coherence. It is speaking in one voice. Its media strategy has improved, and their social media campaign is far better. The leaders are quicker in their actions. In politics, it is important at times to not always be in front of the cameras. That is also a strategy. This is working well for the Congress.
Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj and Manasi Phadke and Chitleen K. Sethi.