One of the unintended consequences of the Anna Hazare movement which peaked in August end with a Parliament discussion on his main demands for breaking off his fast was to throw up vividly the marked comparison in terms of political abilities and political impact potential between Varun Gandhi and his first cousin Rahul Gandhi. Both grandsons of late Indira Gandhi in different political dispensations spoke in the Parliament debate on Anna Hazare.
In public perceptions Varun Gandhi created a more positive political impact with his political composure, political gravitas and his speech marked by extempore delivery masterfully done. Rahul Gandhi in the run-in for succeeding Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh had raised great hopes that he would seize the occasion to establish his political credentials in a moment of crisis. Rahul Gandhi angrily read out a four page written text on the subject and highly critical of the mass political upheaval. That Rahul Gandhi could not seize the moment politically, the blame should rest on his political mentors within the Congress Party and his political spin masters.
The Indian media was quick to seize this unintended consequence and has gone to own with analyses that it seemed that Rahul Gandhi was not yet ready to assume the political leadership of India and some within his Party suggesting that maybe he wants to spend more time to strengthen the Party organization before he bids for the top slot. So much doubting on his political prowess has taken place that some analysts went on to suggest that the Congress Party Plan B should cater for his sister Priyanka Gandhi replacing him as heir to the dynasty.
Politically, all eyes would now be riveted on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections next year to assess Rahul Gandhi’s political fortunes. Even if the Congress Party does not win power in Uttar Pradesh next year but substantially increases its share of winning Assembly seats, that achievement would be politically credited as Rahul Gandhi’s political gain. However that itself seems to be debatable.
Varun Gandhi is certainly not in the race for Prime Minister as his Party the BJP has more than a handful of strong contenders for the Prime Minister’s office in 2014. But for political analysts drawing political comparisons between the two Gandhi family cousins would continue to be inevitable. It makes good copy especially for those who abhor dynastic politics and dynastic leadership within the Congress Party.
Regrettably for Rahul Gandhi India’s political environment is presently not in favor of the Congress Party and hence for Rahul Gandhi also to launch his bid for Prime Ministership. The Congress Party stock has fallen markedly in public perceptions as a result of the cascade of unending political corruption scams of unprecedented proportions. Then is what is being described by the political opposition parties as a civil war in the upper echelons of Congress Party political leaders and especially between the Home Minister and the Finance Minister.
More significantly is the growing alienation of India’s middle classes from the Congress Party especially after the Congress Part’s mismanagement of the Anna Hazare mass political upheaval and the earlier suppression of Baba Ram Dev’s movement at Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi by use of brute police power.
All of these above are tremendous political pressures on Rahul Gandhi and could distract him from the orderly succession scripted for him by the Congress President and the Congress Party political machine.
Comparatively his first cousin Varun Gandhi has no such political distractions weighing in heavily on his political fortunes or his political path. Varun Gandhi does not enjoy or has at his command a subservient political machine to bolster his political fortunes. Politically whatever he has achieved working his way up through BJP ranks is on his own strengths and convictions however much many may differ with him.
In times to come one will always be presented by political comparisons between the two Gandhi first cousins.