Rahul Gandhi, Gaffe Master

Published: May 15, 2014 14:42 IST
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(Captain GR Gopinath founded Air Deccan and is considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector. He joined Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in January this year.)

Rahul Gandhi has done it again. He was missing from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's farewell dinner. No one seems to know his coordinates.

The gesture is being read right as discourteous to an elderly statesman of his own party. It also shows him as wanting in basic protocol, given that he holds the office of the Congress Vice-President. From a political point of view, this is imprudent, irresponsible and also immature. He has exposed himself to avoidable ridicule and salacious rumours. (Rahul Gandhi Faces Sharp Criticism for Skipping PM's Farewell)

As expected, Congress courtiers are busy defending the crown prince and his mysterious escapades.

This is not the first time. At the time of the Anna movement, when the ruling party had its back against the wall, Rahul was missing in action for most of the period when the agitation brought the government to its knees. Then he suddenly appeared in Parliament and made a fervent speech. He said that he wanted to go beyond the demands of Anna and he argued that instead of just the passing of a Lokpal Bill, he wanted a constitutional amendment to provide constitutionally-protected status to the Lokpal on the lines of the Election Commission. The suggestion was laudable, though Anna Hazare, the team of Kejriwal and others in Parliament did not take him seriously and accused him of delaying tactics. But on the crucial final day of debate, when the Bill was put to vote, he went missing from Parliament.

Earlier, too, when the Nirbhaya rape and murder shook Delhi and left the entire nation in anger and grief, and students took to the streets, no one knew where Rahul was. He had vanished.

One would expect on such occasions a de-facto head of the ruling party, and one that was projected as a prime ministerial candidate, Rahul would seek to be visible at the scenes of the tragedy or places of action and address the nation through the media and instill confidence.

Through his disappearance last night, he has fuelled the claims of those who describe him as either a reluctant prince or a dilettante who is confused and lacking in a clear sense of purpose of his own role in relation to that of his party.

All this may be uncharitable to a young leader of the oldest party of India which he is trying to restructure and rejuvenate. But by being out of sight on one landmark after another, Rahul is proving correct those who say he operates without political instinct.

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