Rahul vs Narendra: heart vs hype?

The past week has seen all sorts of comparisons between two Indian leaders, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Indian National Congress secretary Rahul Gandhi. Modi is the older, ‘more seasoned’ of the two. So even though it’s unfair to compare, let’s take a shot at doing a contrast.

Power-hungry Narendra Modi seems determined to grab power and rule India. Rahul Gandhi seems to focus on empowering the teeming masses of the country, giving them a sense of dignity of place and position within an inclusive, democratic frame.

Narendra offers his strong, often opinionated, views and solutions. Rahul wants the ideas and solutions to come from those affected by problems and stark disparities.

Let’s look at the differences in strategy. You can see a generational difference in attitude, thinking and approach between the two leaders. The younger has long-term aspirations. The older one  is in a hurry,  keen to provide short-term, stop-gap solutions. As one analyst put it, “One is determined to take on the challenge of changing a choked and untenable political system, while the other is motivated by an urge to rule India.”

The responses from the print media and TV shows discussing Rahul Gandhi’s speech mirror the fundamentally different aspirations. In one such show, a sarcastic anchor, an intelligent publisher, and an editor urged Rahul Gandhi to solve the problems of a fast failing economy, which is being operated by a bunch of free market experts with neither compassion nor respect for the underprivileged. In the show, the journalists came across as having closed minds, unwilling to change their pre-conceived positions, thereby offering a rather tame and predictable analysis.

Malavika Singhvi puts it so well, “If one third of India is reeling under the threat of Maoism, it is because of the complete lack of compassion and respect for, and comprehension of, what 30 per cent of exploited Indians aspire to be. There is very little idea about their needs from the State or about measures to bring a semblance of dignity to their lives.”

 ‘Maoism’ or ‘Naxalism’ is a historical fact. The ‘movements’ that are taking place are a direct result of the top-down, narrow and arrogant nature of governance that has been in place for decades.

Causes behind this uprising are the suppression of the voices of dissent and the denial of legitimate claims of Indian citizens, who have been prevented from accessing the machinery and institutions of the State. Thus the Indian State alone is responsible for the agitations by people demanding the rights and freedoms promised to them in the pages of the Constitution.

The situation has to be improved radically.

 This can only be done by an ‘open-heart surgery’ that can lead to the unclogging of the arteries. It is for this reason alone that Rahul Gandhi made sense, and his speech proved to be refreshingly different.

 Modi promised sops while speaking to members of ‘FICCI FLO’, the women’s wing, but Rahul Gandhi desisted from making similar promises in his speech.

 Modi did the predictable thing by announcing that he will waive stamp duty for women buying property. Women want to be treated as equals, instead of being given sops. Modi’s FICCI speech was bereft of new ideas. He mouthed the same promises that have been made by other male leaders in India. Platitudes from podiums are boring and dull. They are out-of-date, and the style of delivery is stuck in a time warp.

The great leaders of modern India, Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru being two perfect examples, have been ordinary orators. They engaged with the audience but chose not to declaim. They understood the importance of inclusion. They led India at its finest moment. There are many lessons to be learnt about how to connect with the socio-economic and cultural diversity of India from the approaches adopted by Rahul Gandhi and Modi.

 One could say that in the speech contest that never was, Rahul Gandhi has clearly emerged  the winner.

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Posted by on April 9, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,Print. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Rahul vs Narendra: heart vs hype?

  1. Mohi

    April 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

    One things is sure, I’d never want to hire their PR executives to market myself.

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