Skip to main content

Rahul Gandhi lacks killer instinct to fight authoritarian Modi, Congress should shed hereditary anachronism: FT

By Our Representative
Top British daily Financial Times (FT), even as recognizing that India’s growth rate is "lacklustre" and prime minister Narendra Modi’s policies are "floundering", has said in a hard-hitting editorial that, the "increasingly authoritarian leader still enjoys a favourable rating from nearly nine out of 10 people in the country" largely because of "lack of a competent, credible opposition".
The unsigned editorial, titled "Indian democracy cries out for a real opposition: The Congress party risks becoming a hereditary anachronism" (November 30), says Modi's "authoritarian" rule is in fact "an indictment of India’s political system and particularly of the Congress party, Modi’s primary opposition".
It says, "Maintaining the world’s largest democracy is probably modern India’s greatest achievement but the current lack of a competent, credible opposition poses a danger to the country and to its roughly 1.3bn people", emphasising, "It is time for the party of Nehru to make way for a leader who is not his descendant."
Terming the decision of the Congress to anoint Rahul Gandhi as party president "hereditary anachronism", FT says, "In its desire to preserve the hegemony of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Congress has stifled its grassroots leaders and blocked any serious talent from rising to the top."
Insisting that "this is a terrible mistake for a party that suffered its worst poll defeat in the 2014 elections and now confronts the most serious crisis in its 132-year history", the daily calls Modi "a masterful politician", adding, Rahul is an "amiable and pleasant fellow" but lacks "the will to win power or the killer instinct necessary for the cut and thrust of political battle in India."
FT believes, Rahul's "protestations over the faltering economy" and the chaos caused by "the withdrawal of certain banknotes and the botched attempt to simplify India’s Byzantine tax code have been weak and ineffectual", adding, "He has waffled on crucial political decisions and appears confused as to what his party should stand for in the 21st century."
Predicting that Rahul is "\unlikely to lead his party to victory in the next general election in 2019" and will have to struggle to present "a viable opposition that can hold Modi and his incumbent BJP to account", the daily believes, " The most coherent criticism of the prime minister and the BJP has come from the dissident ranks of the BJP itself."
Insisting that a "powerful opposition is critical in India because most of the pillars of democracy are still weak", FT notes, "The bureaucracy and courts are creaking and corrupt, the rule of law is patchy at best and the electoral process is dominated by patronage, handouts and identity politics."
Pointing out that in the absence of credible opposition, Modi has become "increasingly authoritarian", FT says, "Freedom of speech has eroded markedly and Hindu nationalism is on the rise. Only the Congress party has the nationwide presence needed to counter the BJP and offer an alternative", but underlines, "Combined with weak leadership, the logic of the patronage system has further undermined the Congress party as a viable political force."
"Out of power", the daily notes, the Congress is now left with "far fewer resources to dole out rewards and its ground game in most of the states has been obliterated, while the BJP party machinery has strengthened." It adds, while it may be "too late now to derail Congress’s coronation" of Rahul, "it is not too late to stop India becoming just another Asian authoritarian state with the trappings of elections."
Advising the Congress "to delegate more responsibility to its state-level leaders and focus on articulating a coherent policy platform to compete with Modi" if it is to become a genuine force in opposition, FT says, "It must also recognise that hereditary privilege and dynastic rule is no longer acceptable for the world’s most populous democracy."

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

TISS Hyderabad: Burden of funds cut falls on students from 'marginalized' sections

Counterview Desk
Top activists associated with the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a civil society network, including Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Dr Binayak Sen, and Prafulla Samantara, has protested against the decision of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) administration for “sine die” closure of TISS, Hyderabad Campus, even as “denying” hostel access to Dalit and Adivasi students.