Inside politics

Why Rahul Gandhi will not be able to follow in Akhilesh Yadav’s footsteps and clean up his party

There are many similarities between the two young leaders, but the differences are striking too.

Ever since Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh Yadav declared war on the old guard in the Samajwadi Party and finally emerged victorious, a lot has been said and written about how Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi should emulate him.

After all, there are many similarities between the two Generation Next leaders.

Both Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi belong to the same generation and are products of dynasty politics. Like the Uttar Pradesh chief minister who wants to cleanse the Samajwadi Party of all unsavoury elements and project a modern and progressive image, Rahul Gandhi has also been battling the old guard in an attempt to give the Congress an image make-over by ushering in inner-party democracy through a process of internal elections.

And like Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi has also encountered stiff resistance from the vested interests in his party.

Different dynast

Despite these similarities, there are a host of reasons why Rahul Gandhi will not be able to follow in Akhilesh Yadav’s footsteps. This is despite the fact that unlike Akhilesh Yadav, who is battling his father Mulayum Singh Yadav for the control of the party, Rahul Gandhi has the full support of his mother, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has virtually handed over all responsibilities to the Nehru-Gandhi scion.

While it is true that Sonia Gandhi is keen to hand over the reins of the party to Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president has been equally responsible for holding back his elevation as party chief. Known to be a cautious person by temperament, Sonia Gandhi has chosen to go along with her team members who have often advised her against Rahul Gandhi’s promotion on the plea she should wait for an opportune time for formal transition of power.

While Mulayum Singh Yadav was able to install Akhilesh Yadav as chief minister in 2012 without anybody in the Samajwadi Party questioning his decision, Sonia Gandhi has been unable to do so partly because of her nature and largely because of the Congress party structure. Unlike the family-owned Samajwadi Party, the Congress has built-in checks and balances and the leadership often finds it difficult to impose its decision by going against the mood in the party.

As a result, Rahul Gandhi has publicly reiterated on several occasions that he has no intention of sidelining the older leaders (meaning Sonia Gandhi’s team) as their experiences is an asset to the party. To some extent, the Congress vice-president has been forced to compromise with the old guard. Whether it was the constitutional crisis in Uttarakhand, the National Herald case or the party’s campaign against demonetisation, Rahul Gandhi has enlisted the help of Congress senior leaders like Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma.

Akhilesh Yadav, on the other hand, fought a bitter battle to wrest control of the Samajwadi Party and, in the process, also distanced himself from the musclemen who are known to be the party’s backbone. Not only has he emerged victorious in this internal battle, Akhilesh Yadav has also succeeded in emerging as a credible leader who wants to focus from identity politics to governance.

Rahul Gandhi also attempted to do the same. In 2013, in his zeal to reform the party and usher in a new brand of politics, the Congress vice-president publicly tore up a copy of an ordinance which negated a Supreme Court verdict disqualifying convicted lawmakers. But instead of helping him, Rahul Gandhi’s histrionics only ended up damaging his personal image and embarrassing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government which had approved the ordinance.

Credible leadership

Akhilesh Yadav has clearly stolen a march over Rahul Gandhi. Unlike the Congress vice-president who has no experience in governance, having refused to join the Manmohan Singh government, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister has learnt the nuts and bolts of running a government after a five-year-stint as chief minister of the country’s most populous state. He may not have delivered on many counts but Akhilesh Yadav’s credibility has not taken a beating as it is popularly believed that the young chief minister was not allowed to have his way by his interfering father and uncle. In addition, Akhilesh Yadav possesses an amiable disposition which helps him emerge unscathed from tricky situations while Rahul Gandhi’s projection as an “angry young man” has only backfired on him. Most importantly, Akhilesh Yadav has the advantage of being fluent in Hindi and also a better communicator unlike Rahul Gandhi who has a long way to go before he can make an impromptu speech or take questions in Hindi. His delivery remains stilted while his body language and choice of words invariably makes him a butt of jokes.

Not only has Akhilesh Yadav projected himself as a leader capable of delivering on governance, he has also succeeded in winning the confidence of the party rank and file which has reposed faith in the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and recognised him as the future face of the Samajwadi Party. In contrast, Rahul Gandhi is yet to convince the Congress cadres that he is capable of reviving the party as there are lingering doubts about the Nehru-Gandhi scion’s leadership qualities.

The fact is that while Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as a leader in his own right, Rahul Gandhi is still struggling to get there.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.