Will Rahul Gandhi’s Global Outreach Yield Political Gains?
Lack of jobs, ‘dynastic’ politics and ‘intolerance’ were just some of the issues Rahul Gandhi brought up during his over his two-week tour of the United States. The Congress President made three public appearances during his time at Princeton and Berkeley University and also addressed non-resident Indians at Times Square in New York. He held a number of closed-door meetings with policy experts as well.
“In person he pulls off a better impression than the public impression that is portrayed,” according to Richard Rossow, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who attended two of these meetings.
He spoke knowledgeably about a number of global issues India faces, India’s major defence and security issues and even ducked into economic issues from time to time.Richard Rossow, Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies
That’s how political economy analyst and author Shankkar Aiyar described Gandhi’s latest U.S. visit. “I think one thing that this trip has done is it has gotten him heard. Now opinions may differ on whether he spoke well or poorly, but the fact is he is heard,” Aiyar said.
While addressing students at University of California, Berkeley, Gandhi said he was absolutely ready to take up an executive responsibility and be named the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 general elections, if the Congress party asked him to do so.
“I am intrigued with the fact that he had to go away so far to reconnect with masses or audiences back home,” quipped Yashwant Deshmukh, managing director and chief editor at CVoter, an agency that tracks election trends. Deshmukh is sceptical on whether Gandhi’s outreach will translate into political gains.
According to senior political journalist Vinod Sharma, Gandhi was making an attempt at a political image makeover. “Rahul Gandhi has had a major image crisis both in the media and in popular perception in India and also abroad. Now it was his choice from which end to start . So he has decided to start from abroad. Let’s see how he takes it forward in India,” Sharma said.