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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 17:12
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Rahul Gandhi has magic in his tongue, almost anything he wants gets done, sooner rather than later

Political analysts don’t seem to be giving the Congress vice-president his due. While they argue his poor track record in winning elections for the party he is inheriting and claim he doesn’t even communicate often enough, the evidence runs counter to the popular discourse. On the few occasions that Rahul Gandhi has expressed a desire for something, it has got done. Some years ago, when Gandhi was the sipahi of the tribals in Niyamgiri, protecting their God from marauders in the manner James Cameron romanticised so well in Avatar, environment minister Jairam Ramesh lent a helping hand and denied Vedanta permission to go ahead with its project. When Gandhi rubbished the ordinance protecting MPs with criminal cases against them, his party withdrew it; ditto for the report on the Adarsh housing cooperative. Most recently, when he supported the demands of 3 million retired defence personnel on one-rank-one-pension, the finance minister accepted this—for the record, finance minister P Chidambaram said the budget speech had been written long before Gandhi’s advocacy of the cause.

Gandhi, it would appear from this longish list, is able to move the government to act in a manner that few other politicians are able to. In the past, as in the Niyamgiri case, this may have hurt the economy since it meant projects were not getting cleared. But now that Gandhi is on the side of the angels—he told CII that business could not be held hostage by an unresponsive political class—surely his magic tongue has to mean something? Could it be that industry is looking for Gandhi to deliver on something more substantial—the Maharashtra government, for instance, has still not delivered on Gandhi’s January 15 deadline to delist fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act that would eliminate middlemen from the fruits and vegetables trade.


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