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Panellists feel it’s unfair to compare both the leaders, though Rahul has been trying to keep his politics clean

On the birth anniversary of the country’s youngest Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the spotlight goes to his son Rahul. Will he be able to lead the Congress the way it has been done by stalwarts of the past? Mudda discussed the issue. Anchorperson Anant Tyagi posed questions to panellists including BJP’s Ashok Thakur, Congress’ Omkar Nath Singh, political expert Dr Ajay Upadhyaya, noted journalist Piyiush Pant, and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Pant said: “The Congress in Rajiv Gandhi’s time was extremely strong. He did not have to rebuild the party. The huge wave of support following Indira Gandhi’s assassination fell on him as a boon. Rahul Gandhi faces a strong opponent like Narendra Modi. The common man in Rajiv’s time was with the Congress. Right now, the common man is not such a strong supporter of the country’s oldest party.”

Raju said: “Rajiv got dragged into politics due to circumstances. He never had interest in politics earlier. His experience in politics was very little. In comparison, Rahul has been studying the political atmosphere of the country for the last 15 years. Till Rajiv’s time, Congress president was also the PM. After Rajiv, it was PV Narasimha Rao, Sitaram Kesri, and Sonia Gandhi who were the Congress’ president, and Congress chief was not always the PM, too.”

Upadhyaya said: “Rahul and Rajiv’s circumstances are very different. In 1990, Rajiv emerged successful, despite the Bofors scam. Their roles needs to be examined in the backdrop of the existing political, social and economic circumstances.”

Singh said: “Rahul Gandhi’s role has to be examined since the time he took over as Congress president. In 2004, Sonia Gandhi was the party chief. In 2009, Rahul must have contributed in some way. Winning or losing is customary in politics. Even Indira Gandhi lost, and that in no way diminishes her contribution.”

Pant said: “Questions have been raised on Sonia Gandhi as well. The significant thing is that Sonia has been able to hold the party together, after Rajiv’s assassination. She was able to keep sharks within the party at bay. Rahul is learning, albeit slowly.”

“Does Rahul’s weakness help the BJP?” Anant wanted to know.

Thakur said: “Rajiv won on a wave after Indira’s death. Rahul has been in politics for the last 15 years, and hasn’t made any worthwhile contribution.”

Raju said: “The biggest issue is with Rahul’s own thinking. He does not come across as a person wholeheartedly into politics. He look alike a part-time neta. All of a sudden, he seems to be shying away from saying anything in parliament, and goes out of the country unexpectedly too. It appears Rahul is yet to completely understand the country. His style of functioning is not acceptable to the common man, like the way he tore up currency notes at one time, at another time the official papers, and so on. He should be sober-minded. The common man is not able to connect with antics like winking at people in the parliament. He needs to understand all this.”

Upadhyaya said: “Rahul has himself admitted that he does not have the oratorical skills of Modi. One thing about Rahul is that he does not go for false statements just to make an impact.”

Singh said: “I agree with Upadhyaya. Rahul Gandhi speaks the truth; he wants to keep his politics clean.”

Thakur said: ”Rahul lacks the dedication required for serious politics.”

Raju said:”It looks like today’s Congress likes to wink and then close its eyes.”

Upadhyaya said: “No need to keep harping on the wink. It is certain that today’s Congress needs to pull up its socks.”

Pant said:”Rahul Gandhi needs to grow up. He does not have the skill set required to give a speech like Modi does.”

—Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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