Rahul Gandhi versus Bilawal Bhutto: Who is the better politician?

Even though both have been through the same circumstances their levels of political maturity vary drastically.

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi February 12, 2014
Bhuttosim and Nehruism-Gandhism share some political traits that have blended the mainstream politics of India and Pakistan for quite a while now. The common one amongst them is, unfortunately, the politics of sacrifice. The Bhuttos and the Gandhis have given up and surrendered their lives in the South Asian region to preserve democratic norms and traditions.

During ‘Operation Blue Star’Indira Gandhi, the third prime minister and the first female premier of India, was assassinated. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, the sixth prime minister of India, also died in a well-plotted bomb blast while campaigning in Tamil Nadu.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (R) and Indira Gandhi (L).

Across the border, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the ninth prime minister of Pakistan, was sentenced to death during the regime of General Ziaul Haq. His daughter, Benazir Bhutto, the 11th prime minister of Pakistan and the first female premier to lead a Muslim state, was also assassinated in Liaquat Baagh, Rawalpindi, after addressing a political rally, in order to garner support for the 2008 elections.

India, being the world’s largest democracy, is still striving to strengthen its democratic culture, while Pakistan holds a history of chequered military interventions along the perilous path to democracy.

The Bhuttos and Nehrus-Gandhis have served these neighbouring countries and their political ideologies seem to be immortal, considering the firm roots of their support. The noteworthy aspect is the resilience acquired by the lineage of these political dynasties as their future generation still aspires to serve their respective countries.

Despite suppression, loss of valuable individuals, judicial victimisation and even abhorrence by a substantial segment of the masses, Bhuttoism and Nehruism-Gandhism has lived to this day.

Benazir Bhutto (R) and Rajiv Gandhi (L)

We can witness the presence of both these dynastic doctrines today, in the form of Rahul Gandhi (India) and Bilawal Bhutto (Pakistan).

The former is the grandson of Indira Gandhi and son of Rajhiv Gandhi. The latter is the grandson of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and son of Benazir Bhutto.

It is obvious that Rahul and Bilawal have a past marred with emotional loss and grievance, stained by the blood of loved ones. However, it is interesting to compare the stances that the young politicians have taken.

In his recent interview with Arnab Goswami, one of the most grilling and somewhat feared interviewers of India, Rahul indicated his disinterest in ruling the country for the sake of power. He has clearly stated that multiple and irreparable tragedies have hardened him to personal loss. The Congress-led government has been blamed for a faltering economy, corruption and inflation in India.

Rahul Gandhi. Photo: AFP

The 43-year-old, during the interview, explained his perception of power as a tool for performing certain tasks and he wants to use this tool for amending the suffering of the people. During his interview, not a single statement alluded towards vengeance or the desire to seek revenge. His manifesto is well-knitted and aims at empowering the marginalised sections of the Indian society.

Contrary to Rahul, Bilawal, the youngest ever chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), at his very first political speech managed to gather around 200,000 people from Pakistan. With his voice reflecting the tone of his slain mother, Bilawal registered a complaint in the court of the masses – why can’t the judiciary bring to book the assassins of my mother?

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Photo: PPP Media Cell

Being a new entrant in politics, Bilawal has been quite active since early 2012. Earlier in May 2013, in an interview given to CNN, he openly held former despot General Pervez Musharraf responsible for ‘murdering’ his mother by providing her with insufficient security.

At that time, the Indian media was comparatively more interested in Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s view as compared to the Pakistani media, for obvious reasons. This was before the official start of his career as a politician.

He has been likened to Rahul Gandhi but even the Indians have confessed Bilawal’s precedence. Currently, the young chairman of one of Pakistan’s oldest political parties has declared a cultural coup. For this reason, he has inaugurated the Sindh Festival for preserving the cultural heritage of Pakistan.

Bilawal neglected the menaces of terrorism, corruption and targeted killings in the financial hub of the country. If a coup is required in Pakistan, it should focus on the life of an average Pakistani, which will not be achieved by lighting the ruins of MohenjoDaro.

Both Rahul and Bilawal share the same political background, with the exception of slight differences. The Oxford-educated Bilawal, unlike the Cambridge-educated Rahul, hasn’t contested to a single election till now.

It requires political seasoning and acumen to discern what is politically correct and appropriate for the welfare of the masses. Even if both of them have been through the same circumstances, their levels of political maturity vary drastically.

As a litmus test, an objective analysis of the pre-election speeches of the young politicians can suffice. In the future, Bhuttoism needs a Bilawal who can direct his attention on the distraught state of Pakistanis, like the scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi nexus, Rahul Gandhi.

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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