Who says Rahul Gandhi’s image is on an upswing?

Posted on August 09, 2011 by G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, under Politics

9 August, 2011: The latest State of the Nation poll published by The Hindu-CNN-IBN says that Rahul Gandhi leads the prime ministerial rankings with 19% of voters rooting for him as prime minister, three times the number he got in 2009. Is it right to conclude from this poll that Rahul Gandhi’s popularity is rapidly rising? No. It is just that the rapidly falling political stock of Manmohan Singh as prime minister has pushed up ratings for Rahul Gandhi in the survey as he is the natural heir of the dynasty controlled Congress party.


But in reality, far from becoming more popular, I would argue that Rahul Gandhi’s image is clearly on the wane. When Rahul Gandhi entered politics in 2004, there was an air of expectation about the Gandhi scion. After his mother Sonia Gandhi ‘sacrificed’ her claim to be the prime minister in 2004, Rahul Gandhi had a great opportunity to become the toast of the nation by showing his mettle in any chosen area in the Government or the party organisation. But he failed to utilise this opportunity.

Today, Rahul Gandhi only appeals to the traditional Congress voters who anyway vote for the Congress party. His 19% rating is largely because of these voters rooting for him. To be able to win national elections, a leader must appeal to a larger constituency comprising the young, educated, urban, aspirational electorate vast sections of which are not committed voters of any party. Vajpayee held such appeal for the electorate in 1998 and 1999 parliamentary elections giving a fillip to the BJP’s prospects. In 2009, many such floating voters voted for the Congress party due to the personal appeal of Manmohan Singh which helped in party’s electoral rally.

With the voters now growing impatient with Manmohan Singh’s corruption laden governance, the moot question is whether Rahul Gandhi can appeal to these voters to deliver victories to the Congress party. The answer is an emphatic no.

Rahul Gandhi has failed to impress Indian electorate with his work and words in all these years. If anything, his years in political apprenticeship have only exposed his limitations, some of which include poor articulation and public speaking skills, lack of knowledge of most complex issues and inability to prevent the party’s inexorable slide in recent Bihar and Tamil Nadu assembly elections.

Rahul has been crisscrossing the nation for many years meeting students in college campuses, visiting Dalits in their homes and addressing press conferences. His overexposure in the media has only exposed his shallow understanding of complex issues and convoluted views on issues like terror, corruption, poverty etc. His recent statement on not being able to prevent 1% of terror attacks is one such striking example. In repeatedly raising the bogey of “Hindu terrorism” (even to an incredulous American diplomat as revealed in Wikileaks cables), he has also shown that he sees all issues through a political prism and places his party’s narrow political interests over national interests.

Rahul Gandhi has exhibited most of the limitations of his mother but his mother Sonia Gandhi managed her limitations better than Rahul did. Sonia underplayed her limitations by restricting her public appearances to election meetings and speaking from written speeches.

Today, voters are not impressed with just political lineage and youth. What they look for in a leader are positive qualities that offer promise. This is a global trend. Barack Obama lacking any administrative experience swept U.S. presidential elections because he was able to convince Americans that he would usher in change.

While Rahul Gandhi may appeal to the committed Congress voters – which is what explains his moderate popularity ratings – he holds limited appeal to the uncommitted voters. In fact he represents everything that is wrong with the Congress party. Unlike his father, who in the earlier years was critical of the Congress’s style of functioning and favoured change, Rahul Gandhi seems to be intent on perpetuating everything that is wrong with the Congress party today. That being the case, how can voters who are fed up with the Congress party’s reign and corrupt ways be expected to think that Rahul has anything better to offer?

Rahul Gandhi has failed to show that he has what it takes to be a leader of the nation or at least one in the making. Being the chosen successor to his mother in the dynasty controlled party he would remain the dominant figure of the Congress party. However, given the growing unpopularity of the corruption tainted Congress party, the question of Rahul Gandhi becoming prime minister after next elections may remain a pipe dream. The only possibility for him is to become country’s prime minister by staging a political coup dethroning the incumbent Manmohan Singh. Is that process already underway? If the latest developments are any indication, perhaps yes.

What do you think? Is Rahul Gandhi gaining popularity or losing steam? 

Previously: Fading appeal of Rahul Gandhi

G V L Narasimha Rao is a noted political analyst
E-mail : nrao@lensonnews.com



Response to: Who says Rahul Gandhi’s image is on an upswing?

muslimbhagawat says:
August 10, 2011
rahul gandhi is a compekte disaster in all filed.he is not groomed as a leader by her mother as indira done to rajiv and sanjay but was groomed as a lootera.he is being sent to ppl for enacting drama which is not going well with aam admi but his chamchas are elevating him
Ranjan says:
August 10, 2011
I agree with you when you say that Rahul Gandhi may be benefitting from the fact that our current prime minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh’s stock have come down. After all people who traditionally support congress will now be looking at the prodigal son to take charge. However, what is interesting to note is that the top three popular leaders are from Congress whereas there is no one from the main rival party BJP who comes in the fray. Thus, talking about the floating population that decides late on whom to support, it is highly likely that these three may find a preference among them too. To me the rise of Rahul’s popularity is not just because of the decline in Manmohan Singh’s popularity, but is also due to the unavailability of good leadership in BJP’s ranks (remember Advani and vajpayee got good numbers in earlier polls). It’s clearly evident that BJP does not have a strong central leadership from the fact that, even though there have been 7-10 issues that could have led to the downfall of the congress government, BJP has not been able to take advantage of any of them. The outcome of the 2G scam has been that BJP had to ask one of its chief ministers to resign so that it could carry out the symbolic protests whereas no one from congress party has come close to doing that. It’s actually a lost opportunity for BJP, considering that lakhs of people have come out openly to support the civil society and a Yogi, but BJP still has not emerged as an option for most of them. I guess Rahul has gained most from this helpless state of political affairs in the country.
BAPTY.S says:
August 11, 2011
SHOCKING FOR INDIA & WORLD EVEN IF BY 15 CHANCE BABA RAHUL BECOMES INDIAS P.M. KEY POINT IS WHO ARE THE DEDICATED CINGRESS VOTERS,CAN GVL RAO KINDLY EXPLAIN THIS,BEING A PSEPHOLOGIST.THIS SURVEY BU CSDS & YOGENDER YADAV SEEMS CRAZY.,NOR DOES ANY STATE ELECTION REFLECTS THAT.INFACT THIS COULD BE CONGRESS BIGGEST WEAKNESS,NOT HAVING A P.M. IT SEEMS CLEARLY NARENDRA MODI WOULD BE FAVOURITE OF MAJORITY, INCLUDING MUSLIMS,WOMEN,YOUTH ETC. BEST CHANCE FOR BJP TO PLAN& STRATEGISE ALL THEIR MOVES WELL IN ADVANCE. INFACT BJP SHLD HAVE THEIR MINISTERS PORTFOLIOS READY & SELECT PROPER PEOPLE FOR EACH MINISTRY.THEY SHLD EVEN CONSIDER TAKING PEOPLE LIKE DR S.SWAMY.
pradip says:
August 13, 2011
rajdeep sardesai says so.why--every ntv watcher knows why

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 G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, -G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, 45, is a leading election analyst and a political commentator.
 

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