DECODING RAHUL GANDHI
Author: Aarthi Ramachandran
Publisher: Tranquebar Press
Price: Rs. 350
Let’s admit it. Most books on the first family of Indian politics (living or dead) have been rather reverential - bordering on sycophancy. In that sense, ‘Decoding Rahul Gandhi’, by Aarthi Ramachandran, stays away from deference, and yet demystifies the reticent Gandhi scion to a large extent. Ramachandran is a political journalist, who has tracked Rahul Gandhi’s political career closely – for the past several years.
The book opens with a chapter titled, ‘Yesterday once more’, and presents the reader with an interesting paradox. When Rahul visited Purulia, in West Bengal, in 2009, he was perhaps unaware that it was a landmark moment in personal history. His grandmother Indira Gandhi had received the news of Rahul Gandhi’s birth, in Purulia, in 1979. In the following chapters, the reader is presented with vignettes of Rahul Gandhi’s childhood – underlining the influence of his grandmother in the growing years. We also get a brief glimpse of his student days at Cambridge, and at Rollins College in Southern US, Florida.
‘Decoding Rahul Gandhi’ is based on interviews with veteran politicians, members of Rahul’s team in the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), National Students Union of India (NSUI), his friends and acquaintances. Coupled with in-depth reportage of his electoral and political campaigns, the book analyses Rahul’s chaotic political journey. Not many know that Rahul revamped the Indian Youth Congress and the NSUI, following the global management principle, ‘The Toyota Way’. The book chronicles Rahul’s initiatives to inculcate ‘internal democracy’ in the youth and student wings of the Party. Finally, the book talks about the efforts Rahul made to win back the Hindi heartland, and the humiliation he faced during the UP elections.
One gets a feeling that several efforts by Rahul were well-intentioned, but not well communicated. The writer presents the facts but stays clear of judging the persona. Ramachadran says her book is an attempt to ‘critically look at the person who could be the country’s Prime Minister’. “He does not want to put much of himself out. The book is neutral; it sets out to examine what he adds up to,” she says.