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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.