Though there is a clamour in the Congress for putting Rahul Gandhi in charge, an increasingly assertive Manmohan Singh may come in the way
by Anil Tyagi
Immediately after AICC General-Secretary Digvijay Singh’s statement in July that Rahul Gandhi would be ready to take up a bigger role in the Congress party by September, a well-orchestrated effort was launched within the party to make him the leader of the Lok Sabha. A group of 10 MPs even sent a representation to the Congress President demanding this. Perhaps these MPs were not aware that the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha has to be a minister first. But more than a sycophantic step, it was more like a trial balloon to assess the reaction of such a step, as even these signatories did not know what kind of larger role Rahul Gandhi would like to play.
Perhaps the thinking behind catapulting Rahul Gandhi as the leader of the Lok Sabha was to project someone who could be acceptable to the party and be seen as a person who would lead the party in the next Lok Sabha polls. Since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not a Lok Sabha member, Rahul Gandhi could fit in the role and make his presence felt.
Taking on the role of the leader of the House could also give Rahul Gandhi an opportunity to hone his skills as an orator as he would have had to intervene and speak on a variety of issues on behalf of the Government. Pranab Mukherjee performed that role for a long time by taking a definite position on sensitive issues when necessary, soothing the ruffled feathers of the opposition by finding a way out of an impasse, and helping in running the House smoothly. Mukherjee steered the Government out of many crises in the past through his deft handling.
But, Rahul Gandhi is yet to make his presence felt in the House and establish himself as a powerful orator. During the last eight years as MP, he has spoken only a few times on contemporary issues. His last speech during the height of the Anna movement last year was the “game changer” when he suggested that the Lok Pal should be made a constitutional authority….READMORE