India

Indian media: Rahul Gandhi's challenges

Rahul Gandhi says he is confident about his Congress Party's win in the general elections Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rahul Gandhi says he is confident about his Congress Party's win in the general elections

Media in India feel Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi needs to "engage with the ground realities" to improve his party's chances of winning the upcoming general elections.

Mr Gandhi's first formal TV interview in a decade was aired by the Times Now channel on Monday night.

But papers continue to debate the impact of the interview on his party's poll fortunes.

While appreciating Mr Gandhi's media appearance, papers feel he needs to do more in a "high-stakes election" faced with formidable contenders such as the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's Narendra Modi and the debutant Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal.

"Rahul must engage with the ground realities of Indian life far more closely and for far longer than the flash of a photo camera," says The Times of India in an editorial.

"But alongside, the Congress must candidly examine its own role for Rahul's whimsical world view - where airy abstractions rub shoulders with cliches about decentralisation and people power," it adds.

The Indian Express feels Mr Gandhi "lost the chance to make a political case for his party" with "all his evasions and repetitions".

"In the run-up to a highly charged election, one where Mr Modi's larger-than-life presence and the AAP's surprising entry have churned the discourse, forced all political parties to sharpen their pitch, Mr Gandhi is still detached, speaking of faraway things," it says.

The Asian Age adds that Mr Gandhi's views on complex issues need to be known so that people "may make an informed choice about him and his party".

"He needs to be more specific about how he wants to transform India," it adds.

Beating the Retreat

Meanwhile, in a daring daylight robbery in Delhi, armed men stole around 80 million rupees ($1.27m, £776,921) from a man at gunpoint, The Times of India reports.

The incident took place on Tuesday morning in a busy commercial area of south Delhi when the robbers forced the victim to hand over the money kept in his car.

Police are using CCTV footage from the area to identify the robbers and are also questioning the victim about the huge amount of cash he was carrying, the paper adds.

Elsewhere, a huge fire has destroyed two floors of the British-era Gorton Castle building in the northern city of Shimla, reports the Hindustan Times.

Fire-fighters took five hours on Tuesday to extinguish the blaze at the building constructed in 1904, which now houses offices of the Himachal Pradesh state government, the paper says.

Shimla was the summer capital during British rule and various administrative affairs were carried out from this building during the time.

And finally, President Pranab Mukherjee will ride to Beating the Retreat ceremony in the capital on Wednesday in a horse-drawn carriage, reports The Hindu.

This marks a change from the usual practice of presidents arriving in their official car.

Craftsman Mohammad Aqib, the man responsible for maintaining the "President's Coach", has been working tirelessly to get it ready for the special occasion, the paper adds.

The ceremony marks the end of India's Republic Day celebrations.

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