Rahul Gandhi Interview and my fury with the Congress Party

Rahul Gandhi during his interview with Arnab Goswami

Here was Rahul Gandhi in an interview bang in the middle of the media circus. In one way, it was a superb move. Kejriwal had raked up the points with candid media interviews. This is something Modi cannot do. It was a gamble that could pay off. Rahul Gandhi answering the guy who claims to know what the nation wants to know. Face off.

Yet the interview was yet another monument in how the Congress Party is failing Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi came across as an earnest, guileless and simple man. A worker any party should treasure. And a man with no authority of his own. He had no idea how he was doing, though he was offering the best answers he knew with unexpected humility and candor.

He has a burden. The burden of answering for the reckless opportunism of others in the party that is steadily sinking in credibility. As if this were not enough of a cross to bear, it became apparent with the opening question itself, that this was a man simply not ready to speak strong, committed answers. It was like feeding a newborn to a shark.

By first question, I don’t even mean a real question. Arnab asked if he will answer questions specifically, and he went “Yes, but….” then floundered. Then invented some qualification to get him out of the unnecessary addition he had committed himself to with “I can detail if I feel the need” or something equally inane.

Then came the part where the lack of authority showed. An answer that could have been hit for a six became a hit wicket. Even after answering well! Why was he reluctant to name himself PM candidate? Because he thought it was unconstitutional to name PM without the vote of the elected MPs and thus it was not possible before the elections. This was a brilliant response and one most people interested in democracy would like to hear. But instead of staying with it, Rahul Gandhi got derailed when Arnab asked him about earlier elections. About Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being the PM candidate for the 2009 elections.

It should have been an elementary matter to simply say that the Congress party is attempting to improve its processes for the better.”Democracy is about respect for processes” he said later. Important words, that came completely conversationally. They were his reality. His belief. What he wanted. For the process to play out as written in the constitution. Not a rehearsed quote.

Instead, he went into a convoluted explanation involving incumbents and what not that obviously couldn’t convince anyone because his grandmom was a PM candidate before elections too, just like his dad. There simply is no way that change can be possible, if you describe the new thing as something you always did.

And it went downhill. He went into a complete tizzy about the question of Modi’s challenges, describing personal trauma and loss. I imagine he meant to say that after seeing such trauma, challenges don’t scare him. Or something. But he clearly felt so much on the issue that his articulation was a nervous mess.

His assertions that Modi didn’t matter, like Arjun, he saw his goal, the system that was frustrating him, the system that needed to change actually worked to dismiss the question he’d failed to answer earlier. His talking of the system was profound. He is talking of the system destroying people he cared about, being unfair to people was incredible because he is the grandson and son of Prime Ministers, and he is echoing the same frustrations many Indians feel from a totally different angle. An insight into how a bad system traps everyone and resists change.

“Are you afraid of losing to Modi” A yes/no answer would do. Yet he was all over the place. And on and on and on and on. His accusations of Modi were a courageous stand, which was again self-goaled by the baggage of those he had no authority to condemn.

And as I watched the interview, I was furious with the Congress Party for a reason I had never imagined I would have. I was furious about how handicapped this obviously earnest man had been made. He had no tools, he had no training. He was so obviously the product of a complete lack of honest relationships, that my teeth ached. This was a man without friends, his vulnerability laid bare for the world to see. He simply had no idea of how he was coming across. No one had told him.

It isn’t so difficult, you know? When you have a friend and ramble instead of a yes/no answer, sooner or later you get told “seedhe seedhe bol na – haan ya na?” but you never meet this authenticity if all you have is people who are used to accommodating your eccentricities and listening through whatever you say as a part of the honor of knowing you.

This man simply doesn’t have friends who tell him “You sound your best when talking of this. Avoid talking of that, because you sound like you don’t believe it yourself. And for God’s sake, if asked a straight question, and you have a straight answer, give a straight answer.” He doesn’t have mentors who care for him enough to say “We are in an era of change. It is time to admit mistakes. Don’t burden yourself with our sins.”

And the reasons of this limbo were flooding Twitter praising him for this disastrous interview, where despite his best intentions, he had been disadvantaged because he simply did not have a team supporting him. He had been unable to showcase his efforts as a Congress worker in a manner befitting a leader, though his sincerity rang through loud and clear. It reminded me of a friend of mine whose kid was in the habit of scribbling with color on paper and coming to show her every scribble, which she gushed over as a masterpiece. It is a doting, patronizing kind of love that cares only for the delight of the child, but it is never going to make him a Ravi Verma.

Learning is the ability to differentiate. This is red, this is blue. We learn the difference. By doing this, the problem gets solved, by doing this, it doesn’t. We learn to stand on hard ground and not cushions, because of its firm feedback to the soles of our feet that allows us to juxtapose our muscular strength to stand erect. It is the contrast that allows us to refine ourselves. Continuously.

Rahul Gandhi only gets gushing feedback and unwavering devotion no matter how the interview went. How would he know that in the political arena, some of his answers put him at a disadvantage? Why would he experiment with riskier solutions that would work like “That was then, this is now. The Congress is changing” for example, if the feedback he was getting was telling him – falsely – that he came through like he intended to come through and anyone who said otherwise was a right wing barbarian?

Obviously a man defending the mistakes of generations before him cannot become a Prime Minister, but the man who was on TV was doing a lot for a floundering party that did not do him the basic courtesy of honesty.

Arnab Goswami, even in his uncharacteristically gentle form still had him scrambling for answers.

So anyway, my conclusions.

Rahul Gandhi genuinely cares about change, about the system. About the changes he’d like to see. He has spent considerable time thinking about it and experimenting with it in the limited cocoon available to him. And this is valuable. He would probably be a great advisor instead of trying to use his authenticity to float other crap into acceptance.

He has advantages in that he has no baggage of his own.

On the downside, he simply seems to lack the authority gene. Whether this is a result of over protection or disinterest, but he is more interested in serving and planning and doing than leading. Which may also be a result of the Congress leaders treating him like he was insignificant.

He does seem fearless. Or rather a man with little to lose, which is always dangerous in an opponent.

On the bright, bright, bright side, and extremely refreshing for Indian politics is his complete lack of malice for anyone. Narendra Modi included, which takes a fairly evolved mind considering what he believed Modi’s role to be in the riots.

Summary: Rahul Gandhi is a great guy, but has yet to be able to get reliable data on himself. For me, he continues to be irrelevant to the future of India unless something changes drastically.

To the Congress. You retards, either you give someone the respect of your honesty or you damn well not throw him under the bus to answer for sins he has no idea how to answer for, because it is you creeps who did it, and he isn’t used to covering for it and it is tragic to see him try so hard and still fail for the sake of those who can’t give him something as basic as an honest relationship.

How I wish I had not seen this and felt such sorrow. And now that I have seen it, I cannot unsee it.

I wish Rahul Gandhi joy in life. Whether it means he has to leave this three ring circus and get himself some real people to care, or piss off everyone and grab the reins and run. Till then he isn’t useful to himself or India.

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14 thoughts on “Rahul Gandhi Interview and my fury with the Congress Party”

  1. Hmmm…
    I feel no sympathy for the man. Either you have it or you don’t. It is black or white as you claim in your own post. But ten years as a MP! ten years and you call him a newborn. This is sort of patronizing. He hasn’t learnt and he neither has the answers. I know well of your views regarding the other political parties to know that you are not one of those partytards. But how can you even justify him? He wasn’t prepared? This is not for him? Then be a man and back off. stay in the back and keep at your administration if that is what you think you are good for. His lack of clear cut answer for an Yes or No showed more of the lack of coherence of thought/aim/vision call it what you want than anything else. It’s like someone saying i want to be a doctor and serve the people no matter what inspite of failing to get a grasp of medicine being put into that field. It doesn’t serve the doer or the takers any good. Honest intentions don’t do any good if one is incapable. If you are not good enough you are not good enough. Save him from the sharks… Ohh please!

    1. And yes. I only saw the interview today after resisting the dumb charade for this long just to see if there is any validity to what he says.

    2. I am not sure he has the freedom to back off either. He is walking, rather behind schedule on a path that is being highlighted way before he tread it. I do feel sympathy, because I see this as a kind of slavery. I feel sympathy for him as a person, just like I’d feel it for any person who was molded into a “destiny” that had been decided without their choice. Ten years as an MP who has asked no questions in the Parliament is what we are talking here. Not just ten years as an MP. At which point has he shown excitement, or even willingness to live the role he is in? At the same time, do you realistically believe he can walk out? He should. That is a different matter.

      But all this is about him as a person. As a politician, in my estimate, he never counted, and this interview does nothing to change that, which is why I haven’t addressed it beyond dismissing him as a future PM.

      A position we see as privilege is not necessary one that brings joy to the one standing in it, as the interview clearly shows.

  2. Excellent analysis and well written. After this interview, Rahul has come off as a certain no-PM, but has endeared himself to many who never knew that he was so full of child-like frankness and without any of the diplomacy, that is almost hypocrisy, that typically characterizes a politician.

  3. Couldnt disagree more – very convenient excuse to blame the party and praise the individual. It was possibly one of the most insipid and ridiculous interviews of any politician.
    You talk about his committment to change – havent seen a single example of that. Its all just vague talk – with not a single practical example of how anything will be done.
    For starters – if he wanted to propagate change – he should have stood up and said I have no qualifications except my last name – so i dont deserve to be a leader – I will work under someone more experienced. Even a Sachin Pilot and Jyoti Scindia are more talented and deserving than he is.
    It is so scary that a person like this could be so close to becoming the Prime Minister of India – God help India if that happens

  4. I think congress has not been able to put forward their real achievements substantially. Had it been the case with BJP they would have barked like hungry dog or roaring tiger or thirsty crow. They would not have left any stone unturned. What I mean to say is the historical achievements like RTI, RTE, Lokpal, Women empowerment bill, Reservations for women and many more have not been communicated properly to general public and this may cost congress a lot despite their sincere achievements.
    Hope someone listening…still a chance to inform people.

  5. Rahul talks a lot about System and necessity to change it. A system which is made and nurtured by his own party (read family).
    I understand that he feels pain more because whenever he wants (if he really does)to do something better for country (ready Party) his own family and team tells him that it is not possible and its against system. That could be the reason why he continuously talking about “System”… It is very innocent but kidish at the same time.

    Congress has projected him as future PM (not formally but yes)and that is a very serious stuff. Lot of national and international aspirations are attached to the Post and he looks total unfit for the job.

    Our country has already lost good 65-66 years after independence. Countries who became independent after us are far better in most of the indexes other that population, corruption, poverty, child mortality, crime, etc. Let us not put our country’s future on stake and forget this man for once and ever.

  6. You are ignoring a lot of things here which is a deviation from your other insightful articles.
    1. He has a heavy baggage. Remember, his real motive has always been to revive the party – not the country. How can he criticise his party’s past?
    2. He may become PM candidate, but will he have power? Sonia was able to get power by throwing out Pawar, Sangma etc. and she had the support of MS who would not have used power for personal gains. Rahul has no inside support (except for opportunistic sharks).
    3. He is too weak to criticism – partly because his motivation is weak. Modi and Arvind both came out after a lot of criticism. Modi dealt it by restricting the media from asking questions while Arvind attracted the people despite media because he had caught their imagination previously. Rahul had taken one strong stand and had to apologise for his outburst because media projected him that way.
    In summary, even if he succeeds in reviving congress, Rahul will be a great tragedy for the country by giving power to a few congress leaders who always work from the shadow and will lead to many more scams.

    1. I agree mostly. I disagree revival means defending the outdated. In my view, it would mean the exact opposite. Rejecting the outdated for what is better. He seems to be caught between the baggage and his stated goal. Without real authority, I have no idea how he will even achieve his goals within the party.

      I don’t think Rahul has the cutthroat instincts that are the signature of Indian politics at the very least, if not all politics. But I don’t think power is necessarily about conflict, though Indian politics seems to be more inclined to use conflict – whether verbal, strategic or physical. That said, I see him as a person of considerable determination, so there is personal power. At the same time, I don’t think he has the authority or influence that can make this power have impact on the whole party.

      Rahul taking a stand and having to apologize for it is exactly the kind of problem I am talking about. He does not have the authority to speak for the party, and if he colors outside lines, he gets reined in.

      I don’t think there is much risk of Rahul bringing the Congress back to power unless BJP mess up really badly. Also, like Modi, the problem with Rahul is less the man himself and more the kind of garbage that comes attached. For BJP it is the rabid supporters, for Congress it is the sycophants and the top leadership pulling the strings behind scenes (and I don’t think it is Sonia Gandhi for the most part – she is stuck similar to Rahul, though not as badly).

      1. I agree. If he breaks away from the baggage(by agreeing what is wrong with party and takes action to correct it), I believe that Indians will support him. But that is a personal choice he has to make and comes with risks. And that choice will define if he is any good.
        And it is this choice which makes him a flower that is yet to bloom. We can debate that he has potential, that when he blooms he will have awesome (or awful) fragrance. But we will never know until he actually blooms.

    1. I’m not sure he wants to be PM. He’s just the mascot from the khandani Prime Minister family and fallen into a slot he has no idea how to deal with.

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