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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid