India: At The Crossroads – The Hunt For A Leader

Published January 27, 2013 by vishalvkale

Credit for this article goes to: India Today February 4th, 2013 cover story: In Search Of A Leader

If we carefully scan the national scene today, the most disturbing aspect that comes across is the absence of a leader of calibre with a national footprint, a national following. The old guard is now on the verge of retirement, and the new guard has not yet stepped up into their shoes; this is further exacerbated by the spate of scams and corruption that has enveloped the country. Unfortunately, this is on all sides of the political spectrum, with neither the ruling party nor the opposition escaping the blame of corruption.

A mood of the nation poll, conducted 5 times over the past 2 years by India Today, shows a steady increase in the preference for Modi, and a steady decrease for Rahul. This is along expected lines: but the real problem is that neither is someone with a clear mandate and image- unlike Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, both of  whom were, and are, highly respected worldwide for their knowledge, with the additional factor of a neutral and strong national footprint. This is tellingly absent in both the top candidates that have emerged in public consciousness today.
Is India in for another period of gut-wrenching change? It certainly seems like it; with the political class still unsure of how to deal with the newly resurgent middle class, as well as the spate of exposures that have buffeted them of late. The opposition does not seem to have its house in order; while the ruling party cannot develop its team, and learn to think beyond the Gandhi surname. It is indeed a shame that in a country of 1.2 billion the Congress can only find a Gandhi. I have nothing against Rahul; for all I know he may be an extremely capable young man. The point is that are we in a fuedal kingdom, or a modern democracy? Why cant the Congress have some real democracy at its core, and develop its second string leaders into people of national stature? Why should the baton pass from Father to Daughter to Son To Bahu To Son  and so on and so forth? Conversely, the BJP just cant seem to get its house in order: it has some highly capable, tried and tested people of mettle (as does the Congress, to be fair: if only they could stop their Gandhivaad!)
And so, the hunt for a leader continues. While the Congress would have us believe that only 1 family in approximately 300 million families has the right to rule us (1.2 billion population divided by average of 4 per family), the BJP is unsure. I for one just cant figure them out. It seems they have yet to grow out of their old avatar and grow into a modern progressive party. Funnily, and paradoxically, it is only one of 2 Indian parties with the potential to achieve that and grow to national status; and most certainly the strongest contender in the race for the rediscovered party. The other candidate – The AAP – is too new to comment. Even the people of India seem to agree with me on this; most seem to be reserving judgement. 
Both AAP and BJP should realise that the Congress has just presented them with a golden key: the appointment of Rahul Gandhi is not going to sit well with any number of Indian citizens- especially from the middle class. It has proven once and for all that there is no second string leadership in the Congress to speak of, and no leadership development. I, once an ardent congress supporter from the halcyon days of 1991 when the Congress fired the imagination of the nation, have now finally accepted with deep regret that it will never grow out of the Gandhis. I have nothing against Rahul: he is young, modern, educated, controlled- but he is a Gandhi. I cannot see why one family in 300 million families should rule us, we are after all a democracy.  
I just hope that either BJP – or hopfully AAP – can take up the cudgel and present a strong alternative. The opportunity is now present in the form of this elevation of Rahul: the opportunity to present itself as a progressive, modern, forward thinking party with a true democratic core. A party that has outgrown its mistakes, and is at last ready for national leadership. The AAP might take time for this, but the BJP can certainly do it – if it tones down its rhetoric and gets its house in order. 
For The Hunt For A Leader is on: the leader to take us forward in this new century…
An interesting aside: the people of India have chosen Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the best ever Prime Minister. Kudos to you  India on such a choice! I totally agree!

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