to replace Manmohan Singh as prime minister, but his own ennui and poor political skills led to repeated delays in his elevation, said Sanjaya Baru, a former media adviser to Singh, echoing the comments of many others.
In a recent memoir, Baru said that Singh ultimately failed as a prime minister because he allowed himself to be viewed as a seat warmer for Gandhi, even though Gandhi played almost no role in the government. “I was at the centre of power for four and a half years, and Rahul was a no-show,” Baru said in an interview. “He was not a presence.”
Then last year, Gandhi became the vice president and official prime ministerial candidate of the Congress party. His mother, Sonia Gandhi, has said at rallies that she offered up her son to the nation’s service.
But Gandhi has appeared reluctant to embrace political life. He refused to call himself a candidate for prime minister, and when pressed he suggested that the reason was the assassinations of his father and grandmother. “In my life I have seen my grandmother die, I have seen my father die, I have seen my grandmother go to jail, and I have actually been through a tremendous amount of pain as a child,” he said in a televised interview.
Those sympathetic to Gandhi say that he will not be unhappy if his party loses the election. Rasheed Kidwai, who wrote a biography of Sonia Gandhi, said that Gandhi believed that his own father, Rajiv, became prime minister too early in life and made terrible mistakes as a result. “From Rahul’s point of view, he is not in a great deal of hurry to become prime minister,” Kidwai said. “I think in the back of his mind, the example of his father is always there.”