Gandhi brings hope & balance to power play
Jan 21 2013 , Jaipur
Pre-dawn soul-searching defines his way forward
Gandhi touched the emotional chord of his compatriots at his coronation as party chief (though he officially makes do as the vice president for now), with delegates at the Birla auditorium and those on the dais, including prime minister Manmohan Singh, his cabinet colleagues, and top leaders interrupting the crown prince’s 40-minute oration with a standing ovation.
“I will play the role of a judge and not a lawyer,” Rahul told the gathering, assuring that all were equal for him in the party, irrespective of creed, caste, class or status.
“For me, the Congress is my life, people of India are my life, I will fight for the people and the party; I will fight with everything I have stood up for,” said the 42-year-old leader, still a bachelor.
Young Gandhi spoke from his heart. After his speech, his mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi wound up her concluding remarks within a few minutes, heralding the transfer of power.
Rahul peppered his speech with SWOT analysis of the party, as well as forensic analysis of the mindset of the people and those running the system. He spoke both in English and Hindi, as an emotional Sonia Gandhi, consoled by Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, watched keenly.
Sharing his encounter with his mother after becoming the vice president, Gandhi said, “This morning I got out to the balcony at 4 o’clock. I thought, now you have a big responsibility in front of you and these people are standing behind you… people are standing on your side. It was dark and it was cold, and I decided I am not going to tell you only what you wanted to hear. I decided I should tell you a little bit about what I feel, I want tell you about hope, and also want to tell you about power.”
“When I was a little boy, I loved to play badminton. I loved it because it gave me balance in a complicated world. I was taught how to play in my grandmother’s house by two policemen who protected my grandmother. They were my friends. Then one day, they killed my grandmother and took away the balance in my life. I felt pain that I never felt before and many of us have experienced this. So you will understand what I am saying. My father was in Bengal and he came back to the hospital dark and dirty. And there was a huge crowd screaming outside. They were very angry and as we entered, they were screaming and shouting.
“It was the first time in my life that I saw my father crying, he was the bravest person I knew, and yet I saw him crying. I was small, but I could see my father was broken. They had taken away his mother and he was broken. In those days, our country wasn’t what it is today. In the eyes of the world we had nothing. We were worthless. We didn’t have money, we didn’t have cars, and everybody said we were a poor country. Nobody thought about us. The same evening, I saw my father addressing the nation on television. “I knew like me he was broken inside and even like me he was terrified of what lay in front of him, but when he spoke that night, I felt the small glimmer of hope. It was like a small ray of light in a dark sky. I can still remember what it felt like. If you think back, a lot of you will also remember this. The next day, I realised that many people had seen it. Today, as I look back, and I have a political career of eight years in 42 years, I can see it was a small ray of hope in the darkness that helped changed India into what it is today. Without hope you cannot achieve anything. You can have plans, you can have ideas, but unless you have hope, you cannot change anything. I want to talk to you about power. Last night, every single one of you congratulated me; many of you came and hugged me. But last night my mother came to my room and she cried. Why did she cry? She cried because she understands that the power so many people seek is actually a poison. She can see what it does to people around and to the people they love, but the most important thing is that she can see it, but she is not attached to it. The only antidote to this poison is for all of us to see it for what it really is, and not become attached to it….”
Today we are no longer worthless. Today the entire world is courting us. Today we are the future, and as I said before, nations are not built on scheme and finance. There is a foundation of hope. I am standing here because I believe that the Congress party is the symbol of this hope. I like to end again by saying that for me the Congress party is now my life. The people of India, my life and I will fight for the people of India and for this party. I will fight with everything I have, and I invite all of you to stand up and take on this fight.”
Gandhi said, “We have to relook at things in the system and we have to transform them completely… Yet, I am optimistic, not pessimistic, and I am going to tell you why I am optimistic. I am optimistic because we have already put the building blocks of the revolution in place, and to a big degree, I would like to thank the Congress president, the prime minister and the Congress party for putting these building blocks in place.
“Let me tell you what these building blocks are. First of all, India is more connected today than it ever was; we have networks of roads, information technology, communication, people and media for new ideas to emerge for them to develop and take flight. It is no longer possible to limit an idea whose time has come. Aadhar…, let me speak about Aadhar, it gives us unprecedented mechanism to recognise the unique journey of aspiration of every single Indian, no matter where he is. Direct cash transfer is going to allow us to respond to these dreams with an empowering delivery system. My father used to speak about 15 paise out of the rupee reaching the people, and today we are preparing the system that is going to answer that question and 99 per cent of the people need money that can go to them. It is a revolution, and no other country has done it. And we are preparing that revolution,” he said.
Assuring the rank and file that he would no longer confine to Youth Congress and the NSUI, but work for the entire party, he said he would take everyone along; listen to everybody; and take decisions with care. Gandhi said the Congress was not a party, but like a family… a national family.
“Main sab kuch nahi janta hun, duniya main aisa koi vyakti nahi hain jo sab kuch janta ho (I don’t know everything; there is no such person in the world who knows everything),” he said, and assured he would consult seniors and try to learn from them, because they were the repository of the party’s knowledge and its history. “I would plead for you, raise your concerns before them and remain fair to you,” he assured party workers.
Rahul said the opposition couldn’t understand that the DNA of the Congress was Hindustan. Taking a dig at the proliferation of caste and religion-based parties, Gandhi said the Congress did not believe in castes and religion, but the nation, Hindustan.
Stressing the need for leadership development, he said the Congress should not have a dearth of competent chief ministerial aspirants. In the golden days, there were giants like Nehru, Patel, Azad… They were the prime ministerial material.
He said the party needed to build 40-50 such leaders. In every state, the party should have at least five-six chief ministerial hopefuls. Disapproving the current practice in the party of selecting nominees at the central level and not through the DCCs or the PCCs, Rahul wanted tickets to be given to those in consultation with the block committees, DCCs and not impose leaders from the top.