Monday, November 10, 2008

India's Obama - Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera

Please read through before you decide on bouquets or brickbats.

Why Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera?
(Some of the references I make by way of illustrations might appear trivial. But, Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera is not a public figure and has kept a low profile, and so I had to go by the available evidence).

I. She has conducted herslf with extreme dignity to date. She is a very poised, level headed and a confident person.
2. The Nehrus continue to have a national appeal. In fact, they have more of a national appeal than regional. This will help people to rise above the narrow, parochial obsessions that are threatening the unity of the country. There are many regional leaders with excellent political track record, but they have only a rgional following. A country like ours with its hetrogeneity will find it difficult to relate to such a person.
3. She does not carry the baggage of controversies or scandals.
4. She is young enough for a long innings ahead.
5. She has proved to be a person with an iron will. Remember the way she took charge of matters when Rajiv Gandhi was assasinated, how she cleared within a matter of minutes the official hurdles regarding helicopter etc to bring his body to Delhi.(Source - magazines that covered the assasination)
6. Yet she is a gentle soul with a forgiving heart. Her visit under utmost secrecy to the prison to meet Rajiv Gandhi's assasin, was probably to come to terms, after all these years, with the brutal killing of her father. It is so important that a leader is not vengeful.
7. After her studies, she took up a job as a teacher in a school, probably because she wanted to experience the real India outside the palace gate.
8. She works hard for the constituencies of her mother and brother. She works at grassroot level in these constituencies and is familiar with the terrible level of deprivation in rural india. She is a much loved figure in UP.
9. She dislikes sycophancy. Soon after the UPA came into power, an official in the secretariat was suspended for spelling 'Vadhera' wrong on an invitation card. Priyanka immediately had the suspension withdrawn, and is reported to have expressed her displeasure at the party having gone that extra yard to please the Gandhis.
10. She is a person who does her roles -both social and public - to perfection.
11. She has politics in her blood.

One often hears wishful thining that Priyanka would join politics, as she has the fire and guts of Indira Gandhi and a passionate commitment to democracy like Nehru. At this point of time, an icon with this particular combination of qualities is what the country needs.

There was a time when I was a hardcore critic of Indira Gandhi. But older and wiser now, and terribly distressed at the way the country in being splintered by megalomaniacal politicians, I backtrack on all my criticism of Indira Gandhi, and recognise the fact that we need a strong person at the helm, a person who can fire the imagination of the people enough to make them forget their differences, a person who can promise change from the votebank and communnal politics which is rending the country apart and a person who has the courage to address the problem of the rampant corruption pervading the country. The Bofors fiasco would have taught her the important lesson that Caesar should keep himself above blame.

If anyone can bring the misled youth back into mainstream life from communal politics and class war, I think it is Priyanka. She has the charisma, dignity, courage and mass appeal.

Priyanka, it can safely be assumed, is well versed with Nehru's and Indira Gandhi's socialist leanings, and Rajiv Gandhi's initiatives which brought liberalisation and technological progress into India. Sonia Gandhi's choice of Dr. Manmohan Singh is a continuation of the good work done by Rajiv Gandhi, as also the desire to have a clean and competent man at the helm of affairs in the country. It is only natural to assume that coming from this political family, Priyanka Gandhi has been ivolved in the debates and deliberations in connection with the choice of Prime Minister after the last general elections.. There were also reports at that time that ascribed to Priyanka the decision taken by Sonia Gandhi not accept the PM’s post. So, inexperience is not an issue where she is concerned. Though she has yet to launch herself into the political arena, she has the political moorings required for a leader. Remember, Rajiv Gndhi was a novice in politics when he became the Prime Minister.

Yes. Priyanka Gandhi is the person who can turn things around for India. I was once a loud critic of dynastic politics. But in the case of this young lady, being the daughter of Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, the grand daughter of Indira and Feroze Gandhi and the great grand daughter of Jawharlal Nehru and great great grand daughter of Motiilal Nehru should not be considered a disqualification. Sometimes. grooming and breeding come in handy.


  1. I knew it was somebody young, but her name didn't cross my mind, maybe coz she's not often featured in the media. I just searched to see her bio in wikipedia and found this:

    At a 1999 campaign, she said in an interview to BBC: "I am very clear in my mind. Politics is not a strong pull, the people are. And I can do things for them without being in politics". Nonetheless, the question of her joining formal politics would be bothersome: "I have said it a thousand times, I am not interested in joining politics..."

    That's interesting.

  2. Sad............

    Another one of the Nehru clan only can run India stories......

    I hope all those who suffered the partition, the Emergency...rot in hell!!

  3. @ thomman
    i dont think she will stay away from politics for too long.

    @ intellectual kshatryan
    yes. very sad - but beggars cant be choosers.

  4. Totally agree..:-)

    We have seen so many, let us see her too, but she might need Sachin Pilots, Omar and Scinidas on her side, Else the old foxes will drown her.

  5. Barak Obama is - " a graduate of Columbia College of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.[5] Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003, won a primary victory in March 2004, and was elected to the Senate in November 2004. Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004."

    I dont think Priyanka Gandhi quite has the credentials to stand for the role of prime minister... she has no experience in administration and though she has a degree in Psychology -- she hasnt even practiced a career cause she never has neeeded too..

  6. by that standard,laloo yadav shouldnt govern one of the richest states (in terms of natural resources)in the country( he is a lawyer in name,but ha ! to that
    ambani ,sr didnt have an education...he is a self made man
    very few people like barack would be able to translate education into effective governance...its wait and see for the next 4 years

  7. Sad to see there are still supporters for the Dynasty started by Indira Gandhi.Gandhiji will turning in his grave.

  8. Err prolly the wrong post to say this, but you have been tagged :-)

  9. @ all
    dynastic rule. i know it sounds so primitive and undemocratic.but then this is a democracy where lineage is not a disqualification.

    by india's obama what i meant was someone who can overhaul the political culture which has become stale and corrupt and lobby driven,some one who can talk ideals and unite the countrywith that desire for a change.

    this is more importantant in india than in any other country. the country is being fragmented 'cos of the polarisation of its politics into secular and communal, haves and have nots. we live in times where secularism is a dirty word which people use furtively.

    the country should not throw out its socialitic concerns.
    secularism must be rehabilitated.
    corruption should be controlled.
    integrity and equity need to be hailed as mandatory values.

    all these go against vested political interests. that's y we need someone who can unite. no matter how good and efficient a person is, unless she/he has mass appeal nothing can be done in India.
    am not suggesting that she becomes the PM iafter the next gen elections. she should enter politics and project herself as a future leader
    @ renu
    like me, u also used to be very vocal against dynastic politics. think u too have become practical - like me. i just cant think of anyone else with mass appeal. who can cur across North -South, religious and class divide.
    @ chakaran
    was gandhi critical of offspring of politicians being groomed to enter politics. thought he encouraged it, dont forget gandhi was a nehru fan.

  10. Gandhiji never liked Dynasties.It was against his principles of Truth.That is why he did not push his children to politics.All this Obama mania made me start another blog.See here

  11. @ matthew
    pl send it again. i checked even the trash bin.
    want to know ur response
    sorry & thanks

  12. @ charakan
    'Gandhiji never liked Dynasties.It was against his principles of Truth'
    can you please give me ths source for this information? Dont get me wrong. am not challenging the veracity of yout statement. am a huge gandhi fan and am working a modest gandhi research project . his writings are so so voluminous that searching for specific info is like looking for a needle in haystack. even a secondary refernce to this issue will do. i can use it.

  13. I must say I quite agree with your choice..Priyanka definitely has got the charisma to become a mass leader...though I have my reservations about Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, I should assume that she has the postives in them and must be probably aware of the deficiences as well..Ideologically I still believe that she stands for a good cause..but in politics ideology often takes a back seat..just have the vibes that she has got a neat conscience..

    I think all the qualities mentioned makes a great leader..the humane person in Priyanka..the orator and clear headed person in Omar Abdullah..the acumen and will to get things done in Sreedharan..all of em is what makes a great politician...and thats exactly why Obama is so popular..

    I believe we are taking it too far that we indulge in dynasty that case Bush Jr...Hillary clinton..are all continuation of the same...probably its a disadavantage as well coz people expect them to raise the bar and deliver the good..

    Am a fan of Obama for what he says...I ll be a complete fan of Obama after seeing what he does!!

  14. Political dynasty occurs when the parent and/or his/her supporters actively promote the offspring to succeed the parent as a political leader.The only merit of the off spring will be the family lineage.

    Gandhiji never did such things or allowed his supporters to do it.He wanted his family members to live as common a life as possible.These quotations from his Autobiography are the proof.
    While discussing why his sons were not given formal education in Durban.....
    "I could have sent them to the schools for European children, but only as a matter of favour and exception. No other Indian children were allowed to attend them.
    "Had I been without a sense of self-respect and satisfied of myself with having for my children the education that other children could not get, I should have deprived them of the object-lesson in liberty and self-respect that I gave them at the cost of the literary training.
    When asked about bad influence creeping in on his sons due to the community life at Tolstoy farm Gandhiji replied "'How can I distinguish between my boys and the loafers? I am equally responsible for both......"I must have them here, and therefore my boys also must needs live with them. And surely you do not want me to teach my boys to feel from today that they are superior to other boys. To put that sense of superiority into their heads would be to lead them astray. This association with other boys will be a good discipline for them."
    In the last chapter he concludes "To attain perfect purity one has to become absolutely passion-free in thought, speech and action; to rise above the opposing currents of love and hatred, attachment and repulsion..... But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse. I must reduce myself to zero. So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him."
    Reading all these you will realise that Gandhiji will be the last person in the world to promote a political dynasty.

  15. @ charakan
    a million thanks.
    i have a few blogs on gandhi - no depth but reactive
    @ mathew
    would be wonderful if all the people mentioned in all comments could work as a team. just wishful thinking, i guess.

  16. I am sure Ms. Priyanka Vadhera though more popular as Priayanka Gandhi has left Indian people with lot of mystery and teh best part is the mystery keeps on growing and with there grows expectation and aspirants of common people from this dynamic lady.
    She has often been idealised by common man in par with her late grandmother Smt. Indira Gandhi beacuse of there similar resembelance(short hair)
    But that certainly has been noted that she is a born leader and it is just time which is keeping this natural leader away from people. The day is not far when people will club around to get her in active politics.
    We too look out for that day anxiously.....

  17. Can you please outline specific public service/private scetor achievements and accomplishments that are to the credit of Priyanka Gandhi in her own individual capacity. Whenever I have heard her speak she mumbles unintelligibly about pretty much everything under the sun, unless it comes to recounting the sacrifices of her family to bask in reflected glory.

    May be with this mindset that puts more stock in pedigree in attributing skills, qualifications and abilities to a person on the basis of lineage and the previliges they enjoy by accident of birth instead of allowing for opportunity for all people to prove their worth - Indians deserves to suffer in a system of political patronage that passes of democracy.

    BTW, Obama is of the grassroots, elected through a grassroots campaign..actually of the people. All of the Nehru-Gandhi control of Indian Politics is top down - above the law, above scrutiny, above critique and despite all the fame shrouded in secrecy - not just tolerated but accepted and celebrated by a lot of Indians for no other reason but pedigree - hardly democratic.

  18. @ranu
    i have nothing to specify reg her accomplishments. she is in much the same position as her father when he took over as PM.whether she'll deliver, one can only say when she is in the hot seat.

    my choice fell on her 'cos 1. of her NATIONAL appeal. if someone from the grassroots has that, fine. can u think of someone?
    2. (the point of comparison with obama) a charisma that can UNITE the nation.

    i know obsession with dynasty does not fit in with democratic system. But there is nothing in the system that demands a person be disqualified 'cos she comes from a political family. sometimes, the genes help.

    i can quote the example of ganesh who took over as transport minisr in kerala when his minister father was unseated on account of corruptiion charges. ganesh is an actor, with no track record in politics. yet he is said to have turned KSRTC around durimg his stint.
    people can spring surprises.

    am not saying we shud make her the PM straight away. give her a position in the party and groom her,

  19. I cannot think of some one from among the regular people who have national visibility because in our country's political system there isn't the free and fair opportunity and exposure for able people to advance and prosper in governance on the basis of integrity and ability. It is all about patronage for sycophants and who is connected to who. People who are not in that circle or are truly interested and active in public service instead of sucking up to the firmly entrenched powers are often framed and jailed under false charges, if not put on a funeral pyre or six feet under. They don't get any political party tickets to contest elections. You can't contest in Indian elections now a days for all practical purposes without a coterie of henchman to do you bidding - which regular, working person has that?

    You are right - big political name should not be a disqualification - the unfortunate part is that we have been using name as a qualification for too long for no other reason but name recognition and visibility which passes of for charisma, and then looking for whatevever far and few in between crumbs of gestures there may be to hang our hat on to make a case for caliber. A case in example: Priyanka had the suspension of a secretariat official by her party operatives for spelling her name wrong withdrawn - that is supposed to tell us she does not like sycophancy. Has she gone on and leveraged her position in the party to push for a code of conduct that is adhered to, whereby political henchman don't go around suspending government official 'cause that is not there job under any circumstances - in a democracy, workings of government and political party apparatus are supposed to be separate. If she has done that I had say she has the makings of a leader worthy of a democracy of a billion plus people.

    I worked for the Obama campaign and everybody I worked with were not drawn to him because of the charisma of his looks or the Obama name, but the strength of his message and ideas for America - rising above partisan politics being one of them. His ideas and his ability to communicate them was what drew most of the people who voted for him. What are Priyanka Gandhi's honest ideas and beliefs for India - on the economy, national security, other foreign and domestic policy issues besides invoking her family's sacrifices and the memory of her grandmother and great grandfather on every occasion? Does she need 'grooming' at thirty plus to have any ideas?

    Besides grooming is for royalty - prince and princesses 'ordained by god' to their position. There is nothing stopping Priyanka as an individual to come out of her freeloading cacoon of a government house in Lutyen's New Delhi and Black cat commando security at tax payer expense when the taxpayers do not even get basic services in return for one of the highest taxation rate in the world, to actually engage in substantive activity in the area of her choosing - public, private, non profit, social services, where she has to set leadership/
    administrative/management goals and get things done and prove her worth.

    What you refer to as charisma in her case is the family name and her visibility solely for that reason and perhaps resemblance to Indira Gandhi. Can that alone unite India? The nation is just not as enamored with the Nehru-Gandhi name as it was in the past and that has not united India for as long as this family has been running the nation largely because of their own games to grab and hold on to power.

    There will never be any alternatives, until we as Indians do not shake the mindset of looking to the same old, same old family name game for charisma or leadership or whatever, and grasp at straws of patronizing gestures as a sign of ability and leadership skills.

    I do not just want to be contrary, but as a first step, we have to first believe and think in our minds and attitudes that we as Indians deserve much, much better before we get any better.

  20. @ ranu
    how well articulated! i agree with every word.

    believe me, i was a hardcore critic on the gandhis. I still am. but the polarisation of indian politics along communal lines in the last 2 decades expalins this volte face

    i can think of a dozen names more suited in terms of proven political track record and integrity. but they may not even win a seat in the LS.

    i am a great fan of VP singh - for having the guts to take on the mighty gandhis and exposing Rajiv gandhi, for his landmark mandalisation, for the arresting advani and for getting defeated on the floor of the house for something he believed in. he got voted out for asserting his secular ideology- a couple of years later, under the secular congress babri masjid happened.

    but see what happened to VP Singh.

    priyanka gandhi is a compromise formula. integrity without political chicanery and a plitical base to support you can take u nowhere in indian politics. no guarantee she'll deliver. if she does, great. if she doesnt, the electorate will throw her out.

    regarding obama - do u feel if an atmosphere similar to post 9/11 atmposphere prevailed in the US, u'd have worked so hard for obama? while the obama phenomenon is a reaction to american external policies, it is also the product of the sense of internal security provided by the same policy and the efficient beefing up of internal secirity of the US. obama came at the right time in the history of his country. under the blanket of a well oiled security system put in place post 11/9, people could have the luxury of dreaming, and taking a shot at putting an idealist(instead of a toughie)in the presidential chair.That he was a brialliant man and orator helped - under the prevailing conditions. That he was a nonwhite and had a muslim lineag helped - it'd have a palliative effect on hurt feelings of peoples wounded by american foreign policy.

    india does not have the luxury of chasing a well deserved dream now. the polity is fractured by communal agenda.we are in the grip of terrorism. there is no new rising star in the horizon at the moment.hence a known yet unknown person can be given a channce. the calculation is the youth, the gandhi-nehru connection, noncotroversial personality and a predictability will make her the right choice.

    i could be mistaken. but the first sentence of your comment explains my choice.

    BTW, i cant access your blog.

  21. In response to your question whether I would have worked in Obama's campaign in a post 9/11 situation - yes I would have. I was opposed to the Iraq war from the start as unnecessary and so has he been. I agree with him when he says it was a mistake to not finish the job in Afghanistan and divert resources to the distraction of Iraq. Bushes belligerence has made the problem of terrorism worse around the world. The fact that security measures have been beefed up domestically possibly preventing another attack in the US post 9/11 is to Bush's credit, but what makes you think that would not have happened under any other President.

    Also, in the current environment with rampant villification of Muslims because of some engaging in Terrorism, Obama's Muslim name did not help him - it hurt him. There may have been some people who voted for him because he is black just as there are people who voted against him for that reason.

    The question is not of luxury of dreaming but being inspired to believe that if people put their energy together and work to achieve goals bigger than their individual selves things happen. Let us assume for a minute that US domestic soil was under repeated terrorist attacks under a Bush administration why would one then want the predictability of a continuation of the same.

    There have been terrorist attacks in India this year alone, I believe, every alternate months since May with this last attack in Mumbai under the leadership - and I use the term loosely - of the gandhi-nehru connection - with backdoor entry for and continuation of Shivaraj Patil into government and in charge of internal security after loosing an election and repeated abject failure as a home minister because he has been near and dear to Mrs. Gandhi, the second.

    What is it, in your mind, about Priyanka's youth, gandhi-nehru connection and predicability that will stop terrorist attacks from happening or bring together the polity when the Nehru-Gandhi party culture is itself communalist and casteist - just read about what has been their top down selection criteria - Nehru Gandhi connection conntrolling - for the new Maharashtra Chief Minister. It is all about politicking with who is a Maratha and who is an OBC instead of or atleast in addition to who can govern the state in a time of gravity. Do we really need that kind of predictability of terrorist attacks and 'yes' people to the Nehru's in important positions unable to administer. There is a thing called 'rule without governance' - that is what we have in the Nehru-Gandhi connection - why would we want that predictability.

    There can be valid choices if we look for them and support them and not settle - long before Priyanka has been 'groomed' to take over the throne. That is my main point and I suppose other people can make their own judgement. I can only express what I feel is sense and reason - can't go wrong with that. Atleast you have moved away from presenting Priyanka as India's Obama.

    I don't have my own blog yet. I am new to this so still learning.

  22. Agree with everything Ranu said.I did not put it in my words because I did not want to sound offensive.
    KT, you are not considering the damage that wil be cause to Indian polity if the Gandhi dynasty continues to another generation.The dynasty culture will grow further in each and every political party as started by Indira Gandhi, further hindering the democratisation of Indian political parties.And dont think that it is the Gandhi Dynasty that is the main defenders of Indian secularism.As you rightly said it was V.P Singh and Lallu Prasad Yadav who stopped Advani's rath yathra.BJP is not ruling India now because of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayavathi and Karunanidhi's Parties and not because of Congress or Gandhi dynasty.Also remember that it was during Rajiv Gandhi's Prime ministership that Ram temple in Ayodhya was opened for worship and it was during Congress rule that this day 16 years ago Babri Masjid was demolished.


Dear visitors, dont run away without leaving behind something for me :-)
By the way, if your comment does not get posted at the first click, just click once more.