If Rahul Gandhi is to succeed, it would have to end with him. The purpose of his politics, as he has said more than once, is to open it up for the everyday Indian. The logical conclusion of this is an end to the concept of high command in the Congress party. In other words, no more Nehru-Gandhis at the helm.
To an extent this has already happened. The last Nehru-Gandhi in public office was Rajiv in 1989 when his term as prime minister ended. That is 25 years ago. The world has changed since, as has India. An entire generation of Indians has no sense of the Nehru-Gandhis largely because there have been none in public leadership positions.
All they have done is keep the Congress alive, which is vastly different from heading a ministry or representing India. Thus far, Rahul Gandhi has approached this summer’s election as if he is preparing for 2019.
His biggest effort has been to introduce primaries in 15 constituencies where Congress workers can vote for the nominee they want as the Lok Sabha candidate. Some were meaningless because no one contested against the principal candidate. This concept can warm up in five years when the Congress could have meaningful primaries in many more seats.
But primaries within the Congress have no relevance for the general public. Rahul Gandhi has been strikingly hesitant on policy matters that affect everybody. His big theme has been empowerment of women but without specifics. For instance, the most powerful woman in the Congress is Rahul Gandhi’s mother which is not a great place to start.
In short, Rahul Gandhi carries himself as if he doesn’t expect to deal with policy. This is a major clue. It would appear that the Congress vice-president sees himself as a doctor of sorts. His job appears to be to care for his party so it can recover in time and, possibly, thrive. This is not how the first of a new line of leaders would normally behave. This is conduct of the last of the dynasts.