Congress leaders bemoaned ‘introvert’ Rahul in 2005

Yet another Wikileaks cable focusing on the personality of Rahul Gandhi has the potential to stir trouble for the grand old party of India.

Showing the distance traveled by Rahul Gandhi in five years, the cable expressed widespread disappointment at the young Gandhi’s political and social skills in 2005.

Known to be an introvert, the Gandhi scion was described as slightly socially reclusive and with no political or personal charisma and the cause for worry for a lot of Congress leaders. In 2005, the then US ambassador David Mulford, also said that it was “common impression among Congress insiders is that Rahul is far below even his father in political ability.”

In comments that may explain why Rahul chose to work among the party workers and the masses to gain experience, David Mulford, the then US ambassador gave a sense of disillusionment within the Congress class in 2005 about their ‘heir apparent.’

“Our Congress contacts invariably hail Sonia as a “”visionary leader”” with a special feeling for India’s “”common man”” there are few in the party who are willing to offer such glowing comments on Rahul. Rahul disdains the Delhi social scene, in contrast to most of his political peers. In the few instances we have come across Rahul, he has kept a very low profile and kept mostly to himself or close friends,” he noted.

In a remarkably foresighted comment, Mulford, however realized that the ‘publicity’ machine around Rahul may yet create a mass leader from him. “Given this publicity machine that Rahul enjoys, we, unlike Naqvi, are not yet prepared to write him off just yet,” the Ambassador said, pointing to an interview with influential columnist and political insider Saeed Naqvi.

Naqvi, close to the Congress and a friend of Rajiv Gandhi’s, was thoroughly disappointed with what he thought was an unsuitable leader for a mass party like the Congress.

The cable quotes Naqvi as saying that Rahul’s “emotional problems” of being an introvert and sticking to a close group of friends — instead of “gossiping” in parties — will prevent him from making connections with the masses.

“Naqvi was initially delighted when Sonia Gandhi projected Rahul as the heir apparent, but has since lost faith. He claims that the word among Congress insiders, including those in the coterie surrounding Sonia Gandhi, is that Rahul will never become Prime Minister for several reasons. Saying that he “”refused to indulge in gossip,” the cable quotes Mulford quoting Naqvi, adding that Naqvi felt such problems related to his personality will prevent him from rising to the top.

“Naqvi stated that the Gandhi family always preferred that Rahul’s sister, Priyanka, enter politics, as she was judged to be more intelligent and savvy. Arguing that Sonia Gandhi is an Italian mother, and “”like an Indian mother,”” has a protective feeling regarding her son, Naqvi speculated that Sonia apparently went against her better judgment and selected Rahul over his sister as “”heir apparent.””

“Naqvi claimed that Gandhi dynastic politics had no future, as the family has run out of prime ministerial candidates with appropriate charisma. Indira Gandhi was the last member of the dynasty capable of being an effective PM and Rajiv would never have won re-election had he not been assassinated,” the cable said.

Four years on, Mulford’s successor Peter Burleigh had cabled Washington with the opposite impression after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, in which he dismissed rumors that Gandhi had no political depth and understanding.