B S Raghavan

Dynastic succession sanctified at Jaipur?

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on January 20, 2013

One point that goes greatly in Rahul’s favour is that he has not misused his position to browbeat or harass.

It is both natural and understandable that the unanimous crowning of Rahul Gandhi as the Vice-President of the Indian National Congress should overshadow all the rest of the pronouncements emanating from the Chintan Shivir held by the Party at Jaipur during January 18-19.

Although his pre-eminence within the Party had never been in any doubt, and although it was always assumed that he would one day take over the reins from Sonia Gandhi, and possibly from Manmohan Singh as well, there was some haziness about the exact timing and the manner of the formal announcement.

The Jaipur Declaration sets all speculation at rest and it is just as well. Succession planning is as important in the case of political parties as it is for corporates and, indeed, for any organised or group endeavour. It enables the duly appointed successor to prepare himself for his assigned role and responsibilities. Those whom he would be leading are also clear about the future source of direction and control.

Its essential purpose, however, is not so much to facilitate the wielding of authority, but to signal where the accountability for failure or success in the tasks entrusted will lie.

For this reason, it need not be that the successor should be a perfect or ideal choice.

What is expected in him is undoubted leadership abilities distinguished by a degree of drive, commitment to the cause, and energy, He should, of course, have clarity of the mission to be accomplished, and an optimal awareness of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the outfit he is slated to head, as well as the scope ahead for exploiting its potential to the maximum public good within the prevailing competitive milieu.


If he is a political leader, in the Indian context, he has to take account of the compulsions, contradictions, complexities and diversities, and the refusal of the people to put up any more with incompetence and indifference of those in power and authority.

He should, in particular, command a general acceptability in the sense of enjoying the trust and confidence of governmental set-ups, State leaderships, economic players, business and industry, the public and even institutions and governments abroad.

As an inevitable corollary, it is best for the person on whom the mantle of political leadership falls to have the accommodative temperament to reach out, build bridges and forge a consensus out of a conflict of opinions.

Does Rahul Gandhi have what it takes? He starts off with a bumper advantage as being his mother’s son. It is all very well for carping critics to question ‘dynasticism’ as a legitimate credential, but it cannot be denied that it certainly has in it the vital and positive element of experience from close quarters over the years of problem-solving, conflict-managing and people-handling by the topmost leader and the opportunity to draw the appropriate lessons in both how-to and how-not-to.


One point that goes greatly in Rahul’s favour is that, unlike Sanjay Gandhi with reference to Indira Gandhi, he has not misused his position to browbeat and or harass. Such advice as he had been credited with giving, whether it turned out to be suited to the circumstances or not, has been in good faith and for the betterment of the party and the polity. Also, there have been no big blunders on his part that have worked against national interest.

I would rate his biggest endowment by far is his youth, capacity for hard work and the desire to do the best he can.

The enthusiasm he inspires among the leaders, members and workers under the Congress banner is genuine and unmistakable. Thus, both on relative and absolute merits, he indubitably deserves to be given a chance to lead the party after Sonia Gandhi who reportedly wants to retire when she is 70 in 2016.

From now on, he will be under the scanner, nationally and internationally, as the man of the moment. It has become incumbent on him to do everything possible to deliver.

Even in the second slot as the Vice-President of the party, the road ahead for him could not be clearer. His immediate task is to make sure that all that is required is put in place for the victory of his Party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, if necessary, by working out a winnable configuration and if possible (and why not?), by self-confidently going it alone.

Published on January 20, 2013

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