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

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was a 'frustrated' reformer who turned into a conservative

By Bhaskar Sur "If someone says the Manusamhita was written by all wise Manu and the principal scripture of the land and if he asks me to throw it away, I'll say it is nothing short of atrocious audacity." -- Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Economy in tatters, labour codes 'take away' workers' safety, benefits, right to form TU

By Our Representative  The four new labour codes promulgated by the Government of India came in for sharp criticism from several labour unions and civil rights groups at one-day discussion meeting organised in Ranchi (Jharkhand) on the issue of ‘changes in labour laws. Participants in the meeting asserted that under these new codes, many of the benefits and safeties accorded to labourers have been "taken away", while the right of labourers to create trade unions has been attacked.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Politically-motivated: Global NGO network on ED 'harassment' of Harsh Mander

Counterview Desk  CIVICUS , a top global alliance of civil society organisations seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world with a claimed membership of more than 10,000, objecting to the alleged harassment of IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander by the Government in India, has said that the the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on his house and office highlights “an ongoing pattern of baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges brought by the authorities against activists across India”.