Rahul’s greatest value going forward will be playing the role of an “ideological compass” for Congress
Hyderabad: Rahul Gandhi does not like being in the backseat or asserting his authority and his greatest value going forward will be playing the role of an “ideological compass” for Congress, senior leader Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday Wednesday.
A week after Mallikarjun Kharge, the first non-Gandhi president in over 24 years, took over as head of the party, Ramesh said some people would call Gandhi the elephant in the room, but his response is that the former party leader is actually a “Tiger is”. the street”.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra, Ramesh told PTI, was a “real booster dose” for the party’s outreach and its “two Cs” — connectivity for Gandhi and collectivity for the organization.
“The most tangible implications concern the organization of the Congress. Congressional morale is now at an exceptionally high level. Whether this will translate into long-term public support now depends on the organization,” said the senior leader.
Ramesh, also walking in the yatra, quoted thinker and philosopher Albert Camus to describe Gandhi’s leadership style: “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t go in front of me; I am not allowed to follow. Just walk beside me.”
“I’ve known Mr Gandhi for 18 years and I know him quite well, he doesn’t like being in the back seat, he doesn’t like asserting his position or authority, he’s a very democratic person,” Ramesh said .
The trip undertaken by the party had a transformative effect on perceptions of Gandhi, which had been “very badly distorted” by the “BJP troll machine,” he said in an interview with PTI during the yatra here.
For him personally at the age of 68 and for the party organization, the yatra is the “last roll of the dice” and a “huge gamble,” said Ramesh.
When asked what role Gandhi would play if Kharge took over the reins of the party, the Congress Secretary-General for Communications said it was up to Kharge and Gandhi to decide.
“As a congressman, officer, MP, I think Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s greatest value will be to play the role of an ideological compass for the party,” he said.
Every party needs an ideological compass or a moral compass, and Rahul Gandhi is ideally suited for that role, Ramesh argued.
“Whether he plays that role or not is entirely between him and Mr. Kharge. I can only speak for myself. I think its comparative advantage lies in playing the role of ideological or moral compass, similar to the role played by Mr. PN Haksar (former Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister) towards Mrs. Indira Gandhi from 1967 to 1973,” he said.
“Of course, Mr. Haksar was a back carpenter, while Mr. Gandhi is more of a front carpenter,” he added.
Discussing the yatra, which began in Kanyakumari on September 7, Ramesh said what it has done very visibly is to strengthen congress organization, be it in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh or Telangana.
“…I would not say that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has opened a window of opportunity, it has opened a door of opportunity.”
The narrative surrounding the congress and Gandhi has changed, it is no longer a negative narrative of slander, said the senior congress chairman.
It’s a narrative that recognizes this is a rather unique attempt at mass contact, Ramesh said.
When asked if Gandhi was a revelation during the yatra, Ramesh said, “I wouldn’t say revelation, it’s a revelation to the people who slandered him, who put him down. It is the real person who travels 22 km every day. So it’s not a new Rahul, it’s the real Rahul that came out.”
Since 2009 – when Congress returned with an inflated majority – there has been a campaign to smear, smear, slander and defame him and also the Congress party, he said.
“The election defeat in 2014 and 2019, I don’t think it’s his (Gandhi) fault. The loss certainly affected his public persona and the fact that he also lost to Amethi.
“What this yatra has done is that it has given Rahul Gandhi the opportunity to have an immediate connection with the people without the media. He doesn’t have a lathe around him, he walks 22-23 km a day, meets thousands of people and interacts with a variety of organizations.”
There is no doubt that after Bharat, Jodo Yatra Rahul Gandhi would be viewed dramatically differently both inside and outside the organization, Ramesh said.
“I find it interesting that, on the whole, nine of the ten critics who slandered Gandhi have changed their minds or remained silent.”
Rejecting suggestions that Congress was only focusing on the yatra and not the upcoming general election, he said the party organization was in place and while Ashok Gehlot was leading the charge in Gujarat, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was doing so in Himachal Pradesh.
If Rahul Gandhi was called to campaign, he would take a few days off and go campaign, he added.
Ramesh also dismissed claims that Congress was strong in the south and weak in the north.
Congress, after going through the Covid pandemic, is now going through a “yatra-itis,” he said, citing the main yatras and sub-yatras being held in different states.
When asked about the impact Yatra would have over the long term, Ramesh said it depends on the organization and the type of changes AICC chief Kharge and his team can implement.
“It’s not a wand, like I said, it’s a booster dose. We need booster doses from time to time. I think that’s the first really useful booster dose in a long time,” he said.
Asked if the party was on the path to revival heading into the 2024 general election, Ramesh said he was very cautious as he believed in Narayana Murthy’s management model, which promises and surpasses.
“I am not going to take a giant leap and say that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a metamorphosis for 2024, it is a long road, we have very many profound challenges to face, it is an opportunity that has opened up. ” he said.