News / Asia

Mother's Absence Provides Political Opening for Another Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi waves during an election campaign rally ahead of state assembly elections in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, April 6, 2011
Rahul Gandhi waves during an election campaign rally ahead of state assembly elections in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, April 6, 2011

Indian Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi is still recuperating from an undisclosed illness in the United States. During her absence, her son is expected to assume a more prominent role in leading the country’s ruling party. Rahul Gandhi has long been seen as a future prime minister in a country where the Congress Party relies heavily on having a member of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm.

The Congress Party says Sonia Gandhi’s surgery in the United States has been successful. While the Party has disclosed little about her condition, she is expected to be away for three to four weeks.

While India’s most powerful politician recovers overseas, the focus at home is on the role that her son, 41-year-old Rahul Gandhi, will play in future in Congress Party affairs.

Sonia Gandhi has named him as part of a four-member panel to steer the party in her absence. The other three are close advisers of Ms. Gandhi, but not the most senior leaders of the party.

Many political commentators see this as a signal that Rahul Gandhi is now a step closer to moving to the top rungs of Indian politics.  

Rahul Gandhi heads the youth wing of the Congress Party. He is popularly known as the crown prince of Indian politics and a prime-minister in waiting.

The head of the Center for Media Studies in New Delhi, Bhaskara Rao, says his appointment to oversee Congress Party affairs is significant.   

“It indicates the beginning of a transition. It only signifies the beginning of the new era of the youth of India, what is already known," he said. "The beginning of it has been indicated." said.

Led by the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, the Congress Party has ruled India for most of the six decades since independence. Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is widely credited with reviving the party after it lost power in 1996 and steering it to victory in two successive elections.

She declined becoming prime minister after questions were raised about her Italian origins and handpicked Manmohan Singh, a family loyalist, for the post. But she is widely regarded as wielding the real political power.

During the last year, Prime Minister Singh has been battered by a series of corruption scandals in his administration and there has been speculation whether Rahul Gandhi will take the top job if the party returns to power in the 2014 general elections.

In recent years, Gandhi has focused on reviving the party in states where it has been losing support. He has traveled across rural areas to campaign for the rights of farmers and tribal people who are fighting the takeover of their land for industrial and mining projects.

Rahul Gandhi’s political mettle will be tested next year when the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, governed by a rival regional party, heads for state elections.

Political commentator, B.G. Verghese, with the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, says Rahul Gandhi has yet to make his mark in politics.

“He has got to prove himself. He is a bright young man, he has a lot of energy and dynamism and a certain charisma. He is something of a hands-on person. He gets mixed up with the hoi polloi [mingles with the public], at least on occasion. All that goes in building a popular figure, but that does not add up to being prime minister," said Verghese.

But in India, Sonia Gandhi’s illness has triggered talk of Rahul Gandhi playing a pivotal role on the national political stage.

A recent poll showed him as the favorite to be the next prime minister, with no Congress Party leader presenting any challenge to him. The Congress Party has long faced charges of being dynastic, accused of only being able to unite behind a member of the Gandhi family.

Rahul Gandhi represents the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty. He is the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister. Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, and grandson Rajiv Gandhi also ruled India.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid