Most analysts and political commentators have dismissed Rahul Gandhi’s performance in the interview on Monday ( 27 January – with Arnab Goswami of Times Now Channel ) as below par dubbing him inexperienced & confused AND his performance as lacklustre and full of hollow words.
That Rahul reiterated three major actions, ” The system has to be changed; Women’s empowerment is critical; and RTI for good governance” to the question repeatedly posed 5 or 6 times in succession seeking his answer on how 1984 anti Sikh riots was different from 2002 Gujarat riots in specific terms has been the main observation from everyone.
1. That Rahul is in politics for nearly a decade holding responsible position(s) cannot be ignored; 2. That Rahul is not gullible as not to realize the meaning of the question also cannot be ignored; 3. That Rahul’s awareness of the interview being watched by lakhs of people again cannot be ignored. And, yet his repetition of the same three major actions to these questions is perplexing.
It occurs to my mind that there can be only two reasons for this : (a) Rahul did not want to answer the question directly; (b) Being engaged in a “conversation” ( a word Rahul himself used to describe the interview when he asked Arnab directly as to why he chose to become a journalist ) Rahul, probably, expected to draw a clear boundary to questions relating to Plans for Future of India rather than dwelling on the past (particularly when the Institutions of Law are on course to do the needful on this matter).
I think the second , i.e. (b), stands to reason and sounds logical. I will come to the reason in a minute.
Was Rahul nervous, fidgety, or in fear and hesitation of the questions posed to him ? Were strength and confidence lacking in him ? A firm ‘NO’ for the answer, except for that related to the first test that anyone might be undergoing. He only ‘took the side of the Indian public in Development’, forgetting the past, I feel.
I present a ‘different’ perspective now. It occurs to me again that Rahul has taken the much publicised “interview” as a “conversation” where he imitated the role of the ” CEO of an Organization” answering the person seeking to know the CEO’s lead & directions to the future of India. Means, Rahul sat there as the “CEO of the Nation.” Every ‘CEO” is either asked or the CEO poses the question to himself/herself the one question, the answer to which will likely shape the Course of the Organization in future, particularly when internal/external challenges are manifold; i.e. “If you had a chance to change one thing, what would you change about the organization” ? Rahul has extended the question to the Nation and answered repeatedly, “The System has to be Changed”. He possibly could have been under the impression that the ‘interview’ will not be so much as responses to questions but a mini/micro address on issues. He probably was hinting to change the direction of the interview. He was speaking, probably, more of his agenda. If the interviewer continued further on this line ( shunning the questions relating to the past temporarily), the whole exercise would have done a lot of good in testing Rahul’s Vision, Ideas, and Plans – something people will be eager to know and to assess/evaluate his competency. It could have been a historic one too.
That Rahul probably tried to prompt this is debatable, though. But his emphasis and repetition also probably conveyed the following :
1. In repeating the three major actions, Rahul is dreaming big dreams for people; 2. Shows his conviction that people alone could make India strong; 3. He lays emphasis on reversing the trend and not so much to engage in any blame game; 4. He displays the trust reposed in people to create harmony and not any further crisis; 5. He is taking the side of the Indian Public on Development, Welfare, and Growth; 6. He attempts to list the real, concrete and achievable things that are the needs of the hour; 7. He wants his base to be inspired and not angered; 8. He evokes the “spirit of Indian Citizen” and portrays as someone who will stand for their rights; 9. By “Empowerment” what Rahul probably means is for the institutions, businesses, and enterpreuners to enhance the participation so that HE CAN FULLY SUPPORT THEM. “When women sustain, India sustains”; 10. His reference to his personal story was, probably, more to put trust on people to take their own decisions ( as he took his decisions in personal life) and not expect government will say for everyone and everything. This probably is his interpretation of ’empowerment’ – an expression of Trust in People.
It also occurs to me that ‘Rahul’ is in “TOM” (Total Open Mind) mode without any pride. His calm attitude and mentality without getting agitated, supported his points of view at this particular time. He may have also decided to take broad consensus on issues, knowing the vulnerability of the party and the present circumstances.
In sum, I tend to think that Rahul wanted to be viewed as the CEO of the Nation on “TOM” mode expecting more on ‘what can be done?’ , rather than answering ‘ what and how of what happened’. If he can become the ‘CEO of India’ and act and follow CEO’s practices can he position India well for the 21st Century? A sixty four thousand dollar question !
We shall wait till the next ‘tete-a-tete’ keeping ourselves in ‘TOM’ mode.
“Dieu avec nous”
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 – 4.59 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” No Challenge too Great; No dream too Big; Will you Help or Hinder Progress ?” – President Barack Obama