Is Rahul Gandhi fit to lead India and enable it to take its rightful place as an Asian power on par with China?
2. It is very difficult to give a comprehensive answer to this question because there is very little known about him and the Congress (I) has seen to it that his personality and stature do not become the subject of public scrutiny. Without any scrutiny and without any enumeration of his positive and negative qualities and track record as a political personality, his followers in the party want to impose him on the country as the next Prime Minister in the unlikely eventuality of the Congress (I) returning to power in the next parliamentary elections whenever they are held.
3.I consciously called him a political personality and not a political leader because his ability to exercise leadership over the country has not so far been tested. Even in his own party, in which he has been holding office as the General Secretary for some time now, he has not set the Jamuna on fire. If one has to prepare a comprehensive CV on him for dissemination through the Internet similar to the CVs on political leaders circulated in the US and other democracies before elections, one will have difficulty in completing the task because there is so little known about him except the flattery disseminated by the members of his party.
4. When we are told by his party members that he is fit to be the next Prime Minister of India, we have a right to know on what basis they have come to that conclusion. Leadership does not necessarily require high educational qualifications.K.Kamaraj, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who subsequently became the President of the Congress (I) and played a key role in post-Nehru transition, was hardly educated. And, yet, he turned out to be one of the successful leaders produced by India.
5. Let us, therefore, keep aside the question of Rahul Gandhi's educational qualifications which, in my view, are not important for this debate. My perceptions of Rahul Gandhi are marked by the following thoughts:
* A potential leader must have something more than good personal qualities. He must have an intellectual spark which does not necessarily come from his or her educational qualifications. Rahul Gandhi has not so far given evidence of such an intellectual spark.
* Till now, he has not demonstrated any leadership qualities by way of ideas and actions.
* His ability to understand and logically analyse the complex internal and external problems facing the country is yet to be proved.
* His views tend to be very simplistic and do not indicate wide reading and an ability to think deeply.
* A good leader of the future must excite the younger generation. Rahul doesn't---not even in his own party.
6.. Under such circumstances, the Congress (I) will be doing a tremendous diservice to itself and the country if its tries to have him imposed initially on the party and then on the country as the next Prime Minister of India. His track record till now---whether in respect of contribution to new ideas or new policies---has been mediocre. Apart from the fact that he has come from a highly privileged political family, which has made a tremendous contribition to the nation, he is yet to demonstrate any qualities which compel attention and could make us look upon him as a leader of the future.
7. It is important to have an objective and balanced debate on this subject devoid of rhetoric, abuses and ideological arguments so that we have a complete picture of him before our eyes on the basis of which we can decide whether he is fit to lead India in the difficult years to come.Congress (I) could contribute to this debate by opening a separate web site for him in which they could give all data about him relevant to this debate,
8. If the Congress (I) expects the people of this country to seriously consider him as a potential leader, he should not be treated as a sacred cow which has to be accepted by the people without any scrutiny. (23-3-11)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )