Silence of the Gandhis: Time for them to talk and engage with the people The Gandhis, many would agree, are Indiaâ€™s most powerful political family as they head the most successful political party in independent Indiaâ€™s history. Astonishing, however, is their continued strategy of limited communication. The Gandhis never take questions, in public or in the media. Neither Sonia Gandhi, nor Rahul Gandhi â€“ people who control the reins of our democracy â€“ ever give a TV or a newspaper interview. They address political rallies with well-rehearsed speeches. There are no interactive sessions or audience questions. The rare press conference is stage-managed, with answers that often deflect the issues and no counter-questioning allowed. The family doesnâ€™t give any views on issues affecting the country. It feels like it is beneath their stature to get involved in everyday affairs or with the commoners. They behave like rulers, not leaders. A few party members are often seen defending them. Meanwhile, the family sits in their castle smiling and waving at the crowds, the latter just happy to get a glance from the rulers. However ridiculous the above approach may sound, it has worked. A large proportion of the Indian population still sees the Gandhis as rulers, who shower us with their benevolence and provide cheap rice or reservation quotas (or the latest claim â€“ mobile phones, as the Congress party 'allowedâ€™ this western invention to be sold here). There are plenty of people who still worship the Gan-dhis, and are ready to fall at their feet simply because they are Gandhis. At the same time, the world has changed. The silent treatment just doesnâ€™t work with people in the digitally connected world. Social networks, multiple TV channels, mobile phone updates are tools that didnâ€™t exist in India two decades ago. Their penetration has, and will continue to grow in the coming few years. People expect rapid, direct, relevant and heartfelt communication from people in charge. These expectations rise in times of a crisis, which the nation has seen aplenty in the recent past. Whether it is rampant corruption, record inflation or the latest, the safety of citizens â€“ the Gandhis have notanswered any questions. This has riled the educated middle classes. The anger seen at India Gate was not just for one particular case or issue. It was an outpouring against an uncaring and indifferent government. Does even the most blatant, violent rape of a common citizen not deserve a discussion? Should citizens not want to know what the views of the people in charge, which in this case happens to be the family, are? The people want the family to talk â€“ not spokespersons, agents, sycophants or trained deflectors. They also want the family to speak with sincerity and what they truly feel, not read from rehearsed scripts. This is why the PMâ€™s relatively harmless â€˜theek haiâ€™ caused so much outrage. It cemented the belief that the PM didnâ€™t speak from the heart. Should the Congress change this strategy? After all, who cares about a few angry tweets when the muteness has worked well politically? However, the silence is a mistake. It is not inflation, corruption or even lack of safety that will ultimately bring the Congress down. What will make people lose faith is this silence, now coming across as a mix of smug arrogance, incompetence and lack of compassion. This silence once meant res-traint and poise. Today, it is seen as insensitive. If there is one thing the Congress party should, and could, easily change is to get the Gandhis to talk â€“ not just read out speeches, but engage, interact and respond to questions and concerns. One of the biggest and somewhat underplayed threats to the Gandhis and the Congress is Narendra Modi. His third victory in Gujarat may not have made earth-shattering news, as expected. However, people are underestimating what it means for Indiaâ€™s politics. Not only did Modi win the third time, he did so without using any communal card. Resisting the temptation to use divisive politics, which always worked for him, wouldnâ€™t have been easy. However, he adapted to the changing times. Some analysts argue that Modiâ€™s autocratic style and polarising nature make him unfit to be a player in national politics. Again, they are reading Modi wrong. Modi is not as communal as he is opportunistic. Like any astute politician, he adapts to the new reality. Modi 1.0 was about Hindu politics. Modi 2.0 was about state development. And now, we will see a new version of him. Whether it is keeping his pride aside and taking sweets for the losing opponent Keshubhai Patel; or rendering a broad apology, right after his victory, for any of his mistakes â€“ Modi is adapting to Modi 3.0 â€“ the accommodative, inclusive and consensus-driven version. It will be foolish to write him off, or to think he wonâ€™t be able to make a few friends and tone down his rhetoric to make political gains. A good politician adjusts without being handicapped by his ego. At present there is no reason to believe Modi wonâ€™t be able to do so. This new Modi 3.0 threat alone is reason enough for the Gandhi family to change its tactics. The above should not be construed as support for Modi, or condemnation of the Congress or the family. Itâ€™s simply the new reality of Indian politics. The fact is that if Rahul and Sonia start engaging with the people, the Congress can regain a lot of the lost trust. Similarly, if Modi falters in adapting to Modi 3.0, he wonâ€™t go much further either. Overall, our leaders upgrading to better versions is good for Indian politics, and for Indian people. As Darwin said, the strongest or most intelligent donâ€™t survive, those who adapt the best, do. The Gandhis need to eliminate their ego and adapt. They need to talk. The writer is a best-selling novelist. Silence of the Gandhis: Time for them to talk and engage with the people by The Underage Optimist : Chetan Bhagat's blog-The Times Of India ************************************** What the bloggist write is indeed very true. The manner in which the Congress party appears to have lost touch with the grassroot and the reality is indeed more disheartening even for the diehard political fan of the Congress. The whole problem is that the Congress leadership has allowed governance to drift since there was no effective leadership either at the Party level or in the Govt level. Read speeches indeed, even if fiery, does not have the connect with the people and it appears as if it is but being said as a matter of form and with total lack of conviction or sincerity. That doe snot gel with the people since the heart does not appear to be there. This lack of leadership at the level of the Govt and the Party has allowed snakeoil salesmen like political animals within the Govt to reap a rich harvest leading to the Govt having egg on its face in repeated succession. Their spokesperson on TV, notwithstanding their adjectives and feigning consternation at the brickbats coming their way has also not impressed anyone. In fact, they have come out as prevaricator and people not merely economical with the truth but as purveyors of near falsehood. That naturally does not auger well for the health of the Party or the Govt. To imagine a harmless statement of the PM of theek hai that actually was to check if the recording was correct being lapped up for insensitivity, indicates the ire of the general public. Sad! Liekwise, the false promises that inflation with be checked within months falling flat on its face as total lack of control and in fact falsehood aimed to lull or befool the people too has been a hard pill to swallow. When will the Congress wake up and get their act right? Or are they too suck to surface? The victory of the BJP and Modi in Gujarat does indicate that the Congress has lost the plot since notwithstanding the brouhaha that it will decimate the BJP this time around, it appears that the Congress themselves and their indirect supporters like Keshubhai have been decimated and even the Muslims of Gujarat seems to have abandoned the sinking ship! Sad! And adding insult to injury, the fact that Modi inspite of the unrelenting insidious campaign for some many years to collar Modi as a butcher seems to have fallen on its face this time around. and instead Modi won, without flaunting a communal card or claiming sympathy as an OBC. Both the platform that wins vote was rejected by Modi. Has the electorate got educated that these divisive vote catchers is no answer to their daily existence and instead they want promises and a better life delivered? When will the Congress learn? It is high time, the Gandhis speak as real leaders and not speech readers like TV anchors or pander to populism that is ruing the country even further! Let us hope that the requiem has not been sung for the Congress. Will it rise like the Phoenix?