India Insight

Rahul Gandhi and an embarrassment of titles

October 31, 2012

Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker and son of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, smiles as he speaks with the media in New Delhi March 6, 2012. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma   “Young emperor”, “scion”, “leader-in-waiting” are some of the words used to affectionately describe Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. His official party designation is Congress general secretary, but that could soon change.

Various media reports say Rahul will soon be elevated to the “No. 2 position” in the Congress Party, and a lot of designations are being bandied about to qualify for the post just below the party chief, otherwise known as his mother Sonia Gandhi.

He could receive the title of “secretary general” or “working president” or “vice president”, but these almost feel like they’re trying to confuse the poor guy, not coronate him.

Moreover, Congress for a long time has essentially acknowledged Rahul Gandhi as the heir apparent, and party leaders openly say he is their leader, so the new designation does not really change anything.

The bigger question is whether Rahul should even continue his work in the party (as general secretary or secretary general).

Deserving or not, Rahul’s every move, or lack of it, grabs headlines because of his name.  It’s another thing that he has almost always disappointed political watchers by refusing to join the government and staying silent on big national issues, save a speech or two in parliament.Chief of Congress party Sonia Gandhi (R) and its General-Secretary Rahul Gandhi wave to their supporters during the centenary celebrations of the Bank of Baroda at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh February 20, 2008. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Many commentators say he should learn accountability in public life by joining the government because he is being projected as a possible prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 general elections.

Aside from his lineage,  he has no track record in governance. We don’t know what his ideas are on the kinds of economic policies India should follow. Will he lean towards his mother’s socialist views or be more market-friendly? The sooner India knows what he thinks and how he can help the country, the sooner its people can help him find a title that suits the man.

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