Rahul Gandhi has time and again made it clear that he is reluctant to don any kind of mantle. He is seldom seen in public and much less heard. His silences in Parliament have been more eloquent than his speeches. He prefers to shun the limelight and to occupy the back benches rather than the front row. He has also chosen to give the current session of Parliament a miss. His absence from the public and political scene has begun to give rise to awkward questions for the party and for his mother. His absences can hardly be explained away and ‘Missing’ posters have begun to appear on the walls in Uttar Pradesh.
There was talk of Rahul Gandhi taking over as the President of the Congress at the AICC meeting to be held in April this year. Rahul Gandhi is missing and there is no talk of the scheduled AICC session. The post of party president used to be a temporary job but has assumed political relevance ever since Sonia Gandhi took the reins of handling the Congress party. In the meantime, Sonia has begun to reappear in public, presumably in support of the farmers and against the Land Acquisition Bill, but it is being seen more as an attempt to keep the Congress flock together with the self removal of Rahul Gandhi from the scene. The post of Party President in the Congress itself was a powerless post except during the tenure of Indira Gandhi. It became powerful again to enable Sonia to control the party after she had to forego Prime Ministership in 2004.
Dislike for politics seems to run in the Gandhi family. Rajiv Gandhi was an unwilling inheritor with no aptitude for politics. Sonia Gandhi was persuaded to take it up after the death of her husband and now it is amply clear that Rahul has no aptitude or inclination towards politics. The difference in this case is, while in the case of the predecessors from his family, their refusal would alter the political scene in the country, in the case of Rahul Gandhi it would really make no difference. Rahul Gandhi is totally irrelevant in deciding any political equations in the country and has only embarrassed the party by his words and actions.
Unlike his mother, Rahul is unwilling to learn on the job, in spite of being born in a family that is steeped in politics. Politics is hard work, a 24x7 job, but Rahul likes to retire to his havens in India and abroad periodically and live the life of a normal youngster. If he does so openly, he can no longer stand up on any podium and give self righteous speeches to the less fortunate in the country. His extended absence during the budget session may probably make it clear to him that the common man or the party cadres no longer have any realistic expectations from him and his actions or inactions really will have no significant consequence. Perhaps it is a wise move to remove him from the scene while the Congress attempts to resuscitate itself.