His father’s son: Rahul Gandhi echoes Rajiv Gandhi’s ideas,wordshttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/his-fathers-son-rahul-gandhi-echoes-rajiv-gandhis-ideas-words/

His father’s son: Rahul Gandhi echoes Rajiv Gandhi’s ideas,words

Rahul Gandhi is drawing words,ideas,beliefs and even phraseology Rajiv Gandhi's speeches.

Blame it on the static nature of Indian politics whose context remains unchanged for decades or attribute it to father-son bonding. As he sets out to “transform” the system in India,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is drawing words,ideas,beliefs and even phraseology from his late father Rajiv Gandhi’s speeches.

Even as Rajiv’s famous 1985 US Congress address about the dreams of a “young” and “impatient” India has been the leitmotif of Rahul’s political action plan,the latter’s statement last week in the Parliament Central Hall about his belief in Nishkama Karma of the Gita echoed Rajiv’s remarks in 1987 about how his late mother Indira Gandhi “never hesitated to do what she thought was right in the spirit of Nishkama Karma”.

This was only the latest evidence of how the young scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family continues to seek intellectual inspiration from his father.

Interacting with students in Srinagar in 2008,Rahul had sought to differentiate between the education systems of India and abroad saying,“We don’t ask people (students) to ask questions. When I was studying at St Stephen’s College,asking a question was not (perceived to be) good in our class. You were looked down upon if you asked too many questions.”


While this had caused outrage at his alma mater,forcing him to later visit the campus to clarify his remarks,it turns out that he was only echoing his father’s views on the issue. “In education,our school system does not instill the inquiring spirit in the minds of our children. A questioning mind is not developed. We are taught by rote. We are taught that the teacher is always right and correct. We are taught never to question the teacher,” said Rajiv at the Indian Science Congress in Bangalore in 1987.

After presenting the National Youth Awards 1985 in New Delhi,Rajiv had said: “I know from travelling around the country that there is a tremendous amount of excellence available in our people,but the system does not allow it to rise to the top; it suffocates,it stifles,and keeps mediocrity at the top.” In another speech on responsive administration a few months later,the then prime minister observed,“Too often,I find that the bureaucracy is closed up into its own little boxes.”

In January 2013,in his address at the Congress session in Jaipur,Rahul re-phrased this,observing how people’s lives are decided by “people behind closed doors”. “It has become a system that robs people of their voice. Every single day,I meet people who have tremendous understanding,deep insight and no voice. They are kept outside our systems. All our public systems are closed systems. Their designs promote mediocrity and mediocrity dominates discussion,” said Rahul.

At the Congress centenary session in Mumbai in 1985,Rajiv had lambasted the party system. “Corruption is not only tolerated but even regarded as the hallmark of leadership. Flagrant contradiction between what we say and what we do has become our way of life. At every step,our aims and actions conflict,” he had said.

Twenty-eight years later,Rahul echoed the same in Jaipur. “Every single day we are faced with the hypocrisy of the system. People who are corrupt stand up and talk about eradicating corruption and people who disrespect women everyday talk about women’s rights,” he said.

Replying to the debate on the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha in 1987,Rajiv had stated: “Today,when India speaks,it is not the India of 1979 where nobody even bothered to listen to us. Today,when India speaks,India is listened to. It is heard,India counts.”

At the Jaipur session,Rahul said: “Today India is not like it was in 1984. We are no longer seen as worthless. Today the entire world is courting us. Today we are the future.”

After becoming party vice-president,Rahul has been lamenting the absence of rules and discipline in the party,an issue forcefully raised by Rajiv when he was Congress president. Like his father,Rahul has also been talking about changes in electoral laws and political funding.

Incidentally,Rajiv liked to recount his conversations with his mother. He had told Congressmen during the Bombay session how his late mother Indira Gandhi had borne with stoic fortitude the irreparable loss of a son (Sanjay Gandhi). “She gave me no directions,no formulate,no prescriptions. She just said,‘Understand the real India,its people’,” he said.

Decades later,newly-appointed Congress vice-president Rahul told partymen about his mother’s late night power-is-poison advice,bringing tears to many eyes.


Congress leaders believe that repetition of Rajiv’s ideas reflects Rahul’s determination to carry out what was left unfinished due to his father’s untimely death. “Every son looks up to his father for inspiration. When Soniaji had become Congress president,she was also taken through extracts of Nehru’s and Indiraji’s speeches,” a senior Congress leader told The Sunday Express.