The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Rahul Gandhi was elevated as the Vice-President of the Indian National Congress in the recently held party meeting at Jaipur. He delivered his first Vice-Presidential speech on January 20, 2013. It had all the elements of a Rahul Gandhi speech (

But since it was the first one after his formal elevation (even if the elevation was just a symbolic one and he was already the part of central decision making pivot along with his mother, Sonia Gandhi, in the grand old party of India), let’s have a look on the content and contention.

The speech had many contradictory elements and the central-most was his rhetoric on ‘power centralization’ in the country and ‘no focus on leadership development’ in the Congress party.

Now there can be alternative ways to look at the contradictions in the context of this speech.

The elements of contradiction may be an indication that Rahul Gandhi realizes the pitfalls and negative elements in the functioning of the Congress party and intends to work to rectify them.

Alternatively, it was a poor speechmaking again which belied the content of the speech in the context of the history of the background.

Let’s take up contradictions* from the speech (sourced from the All India Congress Committee website**):

“Power is grossly centralized in our country.  We only empower people at the top of a system.  We don’t believe in empowering people all the way to bottom.”

“We need the aam aadmi to participate in our politics.  Because even as I speak their future is being decided in closed rooms.” 

अब मैं थोडा हिंदी में, संगठन के बारे में बोलना चाहता हूँ। आपने मुझे ये बहुत बड़ी जिम्मेदारी दी है, और ये एक पार्टी कहलाती है मगर सचमुच में ये एक परिवार है। इस बात को आप मानते हैं की ये हिंदुस्तान का, शायद दुनिया का सबसे बड़ा परिवार है और इसमें हिंदुस्तान के सब लोग अन्दर सकते हैं।

दूसरी बात, हम लीडरशिप डेवलपमेंट पर फोकस नहीं करते। आज से 5-6 साल बाद ऐसी बात होनी चाहिए। अगर किसी स्टेट में हमें chief-minister की जरूरत हो, तो जैसे पहले फोटो हुआ करती थी कांग्रेस पार्टी की, चालीस फोटो हुआ करती थी। नेहरु, पटेल, आज़ाद जैसे हुआ करते थे, giants होते थे, उनमें से कोई भी देश का PM बन सकता था। उनमें से कोई भी देश को चला सकता था। सिर्फ प्रदेश को नहीं, देश को चला सकें, ऐसे 40-50 नेता तैयार करने हैं। 

Yes, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, power is absolutely centralized in our country and it has much to do with the absence of the internal democracy in the political parties and an ever-strengthening dynasty politics.

The prevailing culture of the political parties in India has become person-centric when the need is of a process-centric political culture.

It began with the Congress party just after the Independence and slowly engulfed the whole political space in the country leaving few exceptions.

A look back at the prime-ministerial tenures and the Congress party presidential tenures is self explanatory.

Presidents of the Congress party from the Nehru-Gandhi family post-Independence (since August 15, 1947)

Jawaharlal Nehru – 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954
Indira Gandhi – 1959, 1978-83, 1983-83
Rajiv Gandhi – 1985-1991
Sonia Gandhi – 1998 to Present

Total number of years when the Congress party has had a party president from the Nehru-Gandhi family: 32 years (Out of 65 years of Independence)

Prime ministers of India from the Nehru-Gandhi family post-Independence (since August 15, 1947):

Jawaharlal Nehru - 1947–1964
Indira Gandhi - 1966–1977, 1980–1984
Rajiv Gandhi - 1984–1989

Total number of years when the country had a prime-minister from the Nehru-Gandhi family: 38 years (Out of 65 years of Independence)

Since 2004, the Congress party is in government and Manmohan Singh is the prime-minister but the world knows the real power lies with Sonia Gandhi. So if we add these 8 years to the 38 years, we find that the country has been under the rule of Nehru-Gandhi family for 46 years out of its 65 years of Independence.

Lal Bahadur Shastri who was prime-minister from 1964-1966 after Nehru’s death, though seen as a person of probity, was seen as a Nehru loyalist and was chosen to corner Morarji Desai. At that time, Indira Gandhi was just beginning her journey to the political centrestage of the country. 

1991-1996, when PV Narasimha Rao was the prime-minister, there was no one from the Nehru-Gandhi family to take the political centrestage of the country so we cannot say it was the internal democracy of the Congress party that chose Mr. Rao as the prime-minister of the country.

So, no true mass leader, not from the Nehru-Gandhi family or independent of the patronage of Nehru-Gandhi family, could emerge in the Congress party to reach to the political top when there was a name from the family in the active politics and ‘circumstantially’ fit to take the prime-ministerial chair.

And still, it is the same old story.

Now do we call that an element of democracy Mr. Rahul Gandhi?

It is this culture of absolutely centralized political parties in India that has marginalized the prime entity of a democracy in the country – which you, your party and your prime minister of the moment call as the ‘aam aadmi’.

The giants that you speak of like Patel, Azad were the making of the pre-Independence days. Why can’t the Congress party produce such giants in the post-Independence phase who were (and who are) not from the Nehru-Gandhi family?

How can we say it a democratic decentralization of power?

Congress party has become a family where the authority has narrowed down to the realm of the Gandhi clan (the Sonia family). Yes, everyone can become member of this family, but the person needs to follow the dictum that the ‘top’ is reserved for the Gandhi clan.

Manmohan Singh was never a prime-ministerial material and he was chosen for being a yes-man. He has performed the assignment given to him dutifully. There is no other political giant in the country from the Congress party including you.

What separates you from others in your party is your inheritance, the legacy of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Gandhi surname.

There are many in your party and the larger political fraternity who have spent decades in politics and yet are not seen as suitable prime-ministerial material. How do you qualify with just 8 years in active politics then?

The fact is, there is no one in the Congress party qualified enough to become the prime-minister of the country at the moment. The party does need to focus on the leadership development but needs to reform the process.

When the political top is so centralized and narrowed down to very few ‘political elite’, it is foolhardy to expect that an ‘aam aadmi’ would be allowed to participate in the political process and grow in stature.

How should we read this element of contradiction in your speech Mr. Rahul Gandhi?

The need is to have its unorthodox side, away from the Congress party legacy, the upper hand but the ground reality favours the worn-out line.

* Parts of Rahul Gandhi’s speech have been taken up randomly based on the suitability of a particular element of contradiction.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -