'Power of Gandhi' versus 'Gandhi in Power'

Zee News, Blogs
March 13, 2011

For the past few months, almost every newspaper or news channel has the Congress and Manmohan Singh in the top headlines. Well, not surprising, given the fact that Congress is the ruling party and the latter is the prime minister. The surprise lies in the manner in which the two are being talked about. Suddenly, Mr Clean has become too unclean. He is being held responsible for all the scams that have hit our country. After all, the buck stops at the Prime Minister's Office.

There is more to it than meets the eye. Ever since 2004, the Opposition, the common man and even some from the Congress have been crying hoarse that the Dr Singh is a dummy PM and that the real boss is Sonia Gandhi. This argument may have subsided over the years but it still persists. If this is true then how come Manmohan Singh is being majorly blamed for all the scams? Why is the majority not asking Sonia Gandhi to take up the responsibility? When any decision is taken, it is always hinted that Madam Gandhi must be behind it. Then, why is the spotlight not on her now? Well, the answer lies in the fact that the power of a Gandhi is even more when the Gandhi is not in power.

Way back in 2004 when Sonia Gandhi refused to take the post of the prime minister, all of a sudden she rose in everybody's eyes. India is a country where the spirit of sacrifice is considered supreme. Moreover, it proved her critics wrong that she was hungry for power. As is clearly evident by now, Sonia Gandhi had her cake and ate it too. Not only is she equally or maybe more powerful than the prime minister, she also does not have to shoulder the responsibilities of the PM's post.

Sonia Gandhi's performance is gauged against the results expected from a party president, which are definitely lesser than that of the PM. However, she has all the powers that the PM has plus that of the party president. It is a clear case of balance of power in her favour.

In hindsight, this situation throws some light on Sonia Gandhi's decision to choose Manmohan Singh over the other deserving candidate Pranab Mukherjee. In fact, the latter had an upper hand over the former because he is an astute politician as well. May be Sonia Gandhi knew that she would be able to deal with Manmohan Singh more easily than Pranab Mukherjee. This is just a conjecture of course.

At present, the only person who is better placed than Sonia Gandhi is her son, Rahul Gandhi. It is safe to assume that he too exercises power and influence equal to that of his mother, mostly behind the scenes.

Anything that Rahul Gandhi does or says becomes national headlines. His views matter. The recent Congress-DMK seat sharing crisis and Congress' firm stand on the issue of 63 seats is being attributed to Rahul Gandhi's strategy of going it alone wherever possible. This strategy failed to click in Bihar but not many questioned him. On the other hand, had the Congress won in Bihar then the whole country would have congratulated him ad nauseam for 'his' victory. This is the power of being a Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi too like his mother does not have the PM's post. In fact, in case of the former, he is just the Congress general secretary. Any other person sans the Gandhi last name would have gone unnoticed. His performance too is gauged against the responsibilities for a general secretary but his powers extend way beyond that.

Rahul Gandhi has already been declared the heir apparent to the PM's throne by many. If and when this becomes a reality, all his actions and strategies would come under close scrutiny. Suddenly, everything would seem to be not working just like it is happening for Manmohan Singh. The reason? Expectations from him would be raised to that of a prime minister even though the person would remain the same. And, in his case the powers too would more or less remain the same.

No doubt that both the Gandhis like their predecessors are working very hard and many times their families have paid a huge price for their Gandhi name but, if one were to look at the bigger picture, the two Gandhis are better off not being in power (read, PM). At least in the near future.


Ms. Puri has voiced what most citizens think and speak about in the privacy of their homes. Sonia Gandhi is the "super PM" and Rahul Gandhi is perhaps the only one in a better position than her to anoint the PM's chair, post-Manmohan Singh.

As Ms.Puri rightly says that they are having the cake and eating it too.

Pranab Mukherjee would have been a more difficult kettle of fish to tackle. If Mukherjee had been at the helm of affairs in India, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi would have found it well-nigh impossible to ensconce her son Rahul as the PM in the near future. On the other hand, as Ms. Puri states, it is all in the realm of conjecture.

Perhaps the nation is better off without the Nehru-Gandhis for the moment.

Abhay Sapru, New Delhi

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