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POOR SHOW

A self goal in football is a rare occurrence; in politics it is even rarer. Rahul Gandhi can compliment himself and his advisors for having achieved this rare thing. After the interview he gave to Arnab Goswami, even those who are sympathetic towards him will be compelled to concede that he does not have it in him to be the prime minister or any kind of leader. It was evident that his thinking is shallow and unclear. He has no programme or vision to offer to the country. Some people may even draw the conclusion that he is ignorant, if he became aware of the prevailing price rise only after talking to some women in Kerala. The statement that he wants to make India a manufacturing power like China says nothing, since it misses the point that industrialization by way of manufacturing is essential for the creation of wealth and the pursuit of economic growth. What was also obvious is that he is obsessed with certain words and ideas — empowerment, right to information, changing the system — without being aware of their implications.

Mr Gandhi spoke repeatedly about changing the system but never clarified what the system he wants to change is. India functions not on the basis of one system but on several — political, social, judicial, economic and so on. Which is the one he wants to change? And how? What is his preferred replacement to the system he wants to abandon? The empowerment of women and youth is a noble ideal on which there is very little doubt or dispute. The critical questions are how this ideal is to be achieved and where the resources are going to come from. Mr Goswami did not ask Mr Gandhi his views on subsidies but it is evident that the latter has nothing but enthusiasm for projects like the MGNREGA. A particular favourite of Mr Gandhi is the RTI and he argued that the press should be brought within the ambit of the RTI. This only exhibits his shallowness. He does not realize that the press in India is privately-owned and not run on tax-payers’ money, unlike the government. It is remarkable that on no important issue did Mr Gandhi have an idea or a statement worth recalling. He boasted that having seen his grandmother and his father die, he was afraid of nothing. It is perhaps this illusion of bravery that made him rush in to be the proverbial lamb at Mr Goswami’s studio altar. But the latter did not have to do much as the nation watched a political hara-kiri live on screen.