The perception that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is a reluctant prince is a media imagination, said union minister of state for education Shashi Tharoor. “He is reticent, but reticence should not be mistaken for reluctance,” Tharoor said, interacting with editors at the Hindustan Times. “Whenever someone from the Nehru-Gandhi family is available and willing, he or she is the natural leader of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi will be the leader and he will rejuvenate the party,” Tharoor said.
“The family is the force of unity within the Congress. We all know that factionalism of various sorts always exist in the party,” added the education minister.
Tharoor said Gandhi’s reticence to talk to the media and publicly articulate his views has been “unfortunate” and left the field open to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who appeared to be setting the agenda every day until recently, said the minister. “But Gandhi’s recent pronouncement on gay rights and his Parliament speech on Lokpal has changed the scenario,” he added.
The minister, who crossed two million followers on Twitter on Tuesday, said he had once tried to persuade Gandhi to join the microblogging site. “He said he hardly has the time, which is understandable.”
Tharoor said that through sustained efforts the Congress has managed to neutralise the advantage that the BJP had established on social media. “We have fought back and a balance has been established,” he said.
Responding to the impressive performance of the Aam Aadmi Party, Tharoor said its idealism was impressive. “Their diagnosis is correct but the prescriptions are problematic. And they are finding it a pleasurable experience to be in opposition,” he added.
The minister said it may well be true that there is no legal proof of Modi’s involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riot, but one cannot overlook the fact that “at the very minimum he condoned it.”