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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora