New Delhi: Does Rahul Gandhi have an overarching political and economic vision asked panelists at a book release function here Wednesday while debating the strategy and thinking of the Congress leader.
Some panelists suggested that the Congress general secretary should take a bigger political role upfront to guide his party for the 2014 electoral challenge.
Senior journalist M.D. Nalapat, who released the book "Decoding Rahul Gandhi" by Aarthi Ramachandran, set the tone of a freewheeling discussion by posing questions about the possibility of Rahul Gandhi being able to outshine his father Rajiv Gandhi because of the "very low expectations" of him.
Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor, Open magazine, said Rahul Gandhi was by nature a fairly decent man but was not willing to step ahead. Bal said the Congress would shape around the role Rahul Gandhi takes but "he does not want to take a role upfront".
"He may be forced in 2014," Bal said, and added that Rahul Gandhi should either step back completely or step forward.
He said Rahul Gandhi had wasted too much time being in charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students' Union of India.
Columnist Santosh Desai said the charisma of the Gandhi dynasty was no longer sufficient and vote catching abilities of a single person were unlikely to deliver results.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi's work in the Youth Congress, Desai said that the young leader had the idea of seeing politics as a management consultant and converting everything into projects.
"He is trying to impose a new kind of framework. It is a tall order," Desai said.
Ramachadran, who has worked with dailies, said her book was an attempt to critically look at the person who could be the country's prime minister.
"He does not want to put much of himself out. The book is neutral, set out to examine what he adds up to," Ramachadran said.
The author said Rahul Gandhi had "a large economic point of view" which was "left of centre" and could be placed between that of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
She said that Rahul Gandhi's politics had conveyed a sense of opportunism as issues like the land acquisition bill taken up by him before the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls appear to have been left for another election.
She said the Congress leader had the right intentions but managed to come across as a process-driven individual.
"He had in him a desire to strike out and do differently but pressure to deliver (forced him) to go back to (paths of) Sonia Gandhi, Indira Gandhi. He is very uncomfortable with that," she said.
Ramachadran said despite criticism of Rahul Gandhi not being upto the task, he was not a political figure who could be wished away.
Answering queries, she said it will be a rough ride if Rahul Gandhi became prime minister and added that people had not seen him engage with allies.
The 280-book has been published by Tranquebar Press.