The question is, who is Rahul Gandhi and what is he doing in the world of Indian politics? Apart from being Indira Gandhi’s grandson and Rajiv Gandhi’s heir that is. Aarthi Ramachandran has written the second book that attempts to chalk out Rahul Gandhi’s political strategies – the first by Jatin Gandhi and Veenu Sandhu disappeared without a trace.
In its pages he comes across as a modern young man who applies management principles from The Toyota Way in an attempt to create a corporate stance where politics is concerned. But despite everything he seems to remain a mystery or an amateur – though the whole of India is aware that he is being groomed for the top job.
However Ramachandran delicately and efficiently makes her way across the minefield of Rahul Gandhi’s career since 2004 when he came into politics. Spanning the Rae Barelli election and the last disastrous UP elections which coincided with the ban against Salman Rushdie’s visit to the Jaipur Literary Festival. She numbers his virtues – his modernity, his belief that youth can make a difference and his ability to connect on a one to one basis. She of course does not have the benefit of an in depth interview with her subject – Rahul Gandhi is notoriously guarded – relying on an interview that he gave the newsmagazine Tehelka in 2005, a year after he joined politics. Her only significant contact with him she was a brief encounter at a Jan Sabha. Nonetheless she does allow that to hinder her research.
Ramachandran takes all the time she needs in sketching out Rahul Gandhi’s Congress inheritance, describing the nuances clearly, and going over RG’s significant moves and their implications – his Team calls him RG for short. However she puts RG’s short political life in its due context. He has been chronicled zipping into doubtful terrain on the back of a motorbike, or being airdropped to place torn by natural calamities, even spending the night in Dalit huts. Unfortunately all this has managed to do very little to establish him as a solid politician which is why emails still do the rounds on the internet talking scandal about his Columbian girlfriend and his history of dropping out of college.
Rahul has gone on record to say that his girlfriend Veronique, who was last heard of in 2004, is Spanish and the reason why he dropped out of college was because of his father’s assassination – he later completed his education in Florida. But so little is known about him that people are willing to believe anything they read. Ramachandran says that if he can be compared to any other politician, it is Omar Abdullah, another half Indian scion of a political dynasty, though Omar Abdullah has the benefit of popular doubt where his reputation is concerned.
In the Toyota Way, it’s the people who bring the system to life: working, communicating, resolving issues, and growing together. A system based on values. RG’s governance by management principles however modern it may sound still has to make its impact. Rahul Gandhi has been successful only where he has come in with the senior Congress body’s support. However, in her epilogue, Ramachandran seems fairly certain that he will take over “The Rahul Gandhi era is almost inevitable,”
The book is honest and Ramachandran has taken the doubtful issues of Rahul Gandhi’s political career head on and attempted to find some kind of explanation for why he does what he does. Those who are interested in Indian politics and the Gandhi family will find the book rewarding to flip through. Incidentally he is currently making his appeal to Kashmiris through his Kashmiri pandit roots, the Nehru family.
Decoding Rahul Gandhi by Aarthi Ramachandran
Published by Tranquebar Press in India, 2012
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