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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid