As the chorus for Rahul Gandhi to be projected as the Congress’ candidate for Prime Minister gets louder, there are one of two possible takeaways for the “heir apparent” according to Offstumped.

Which one he ultimately figures will be revealing on how far along he has come in his internship.

The first and more obvious one is that his time has finally come. With key allies like the DMK and NCP endorsing the idea of projecting him, it just was the logical thing to do.

The second takeaway is a trifle counter intuitive and if indeed the “not so young anymore” Gandhi figures it out, one would have to attribute far more political savviness than he normally betrays.

So what of the second takeaway ?

Consider this:

The Congress is not calling elections anytime soon.

The Communists are not losing any opportunities to remind us that they dont want to topple the Government.

The Indo-US Nuclear Deal fiasco is yet to be given a respectful burial.

The farm loan waiver is yet to be succesfully implemented.

The UPA is yet to tide the inflation crisis and show that it has weathered the associated political storm.

So if the Congress were to go ahead and project Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for Prime Minister, what does it really mean ?

First and foremost it would be a public acknowledgement by Congress President Sonia Gandhi that Manmohan Singh is indeed electile dysfunctional and unfit to lead the party into the next elections

Second it would also be a public acknowledgement that he was nothing more than a surrogate who kept the seat warm for the “heir apparent” to explain away his non-performance and lack of leadership

Third it would be a signal to all those within and outside the government that the Prime Minister is now officially a lame duck

Sonia Gandhi’s 2004 abdication in favor of Manmohan Singh which at the time appeared to be a masterstroke is actually a catch-22 for the Congress. There is no way the Congress can spin this bind.

It cannot project Manmohan Singh as the next Prime Minister for it knows its a lose lose proposition.

It also cannot project Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister while he remains outside the Government for it not only reduces Manmohan to a lame duck but it also puts a question mark on the performance of the UPA for the last 4 years.

The only graceful way to do this would have been to draft Rahul Gandhi into the Government and have Manmohan Singh delegate executive decision making to him over time leading up to the next elections, making him the logical heir apparent.

But then Rahul Gandhi would have to take responsibility for all the failures of the UPA starting with the economy and ending with the Indo-US Nuclear fiasco.

That really is the Catch-22 that Sonia Gandhi got the Congress into.

It is this Catch-22 that the wily nily gerontocrats are seeking to exploit with the Rahul Gandhi trial balloon.

If  Rahul Gandhi was really smart he would figure that this has less to do with him or his youth and more to do with doing Manmohan Singh in.

Offstumped Bottomline: The Rahul Gandhi trial balloon being floated by the gerontocrats is a hit job on Manmohan Singh to officially reduce him to a lame duck. While it seeks to float Rahul Gandhi’s aspirations it also gives him no cover to hide from the UPA’s failures. Its a Catch-22 that will ultimately sink the Congress’ fortunes come elections.

Offstumped is written by Yossarin from the Indian National Interest 

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