Has Rahul Gandhi given up hope of leading India? There are signs that appear to show he has

Rahul Gandhi seems to have descended into a spiral of far Left, subversive standpoint since Narendra Modi swept to power at the Centre and the Congress started losing state after state.

Abhijit Majumder May 09, 2020 12:45:27 IST
Has Rahul Gandhi given up hope of leading India? There are signs that appear to show he has

This man has been radicalised.

That is what we would say if somebody got on stage in solidarity with those who grieve incarceration of a terrorist who plotted the attack on a nation’s Parliament, those who raised slogans of breaking his own country into pieces.

Has Rahul Gandhi given up hope of leading India There are signs that appear to show he has

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

That is what we would say if that man questioned and mocked surgical strikes by his nation’s army on the enemy. Or echoed the enemy when his own army conducted airstrikes to avenge the killing of soldiers.

That is what we would say if that man tried to shame the nation abroad at seminars and talks, or made friends in West Asia with a bigot who repeatedly attacks India on religious lines. Or congratulates journalists for winning a prize by undermining one’s own nation’s sovereignty.

This man has been radicalised, we would say.

What would we say about Rahul Gandhi? One isn’t sure. But his latest gesture of congratulating Pulitzer-winning journalists who don’t acknowledge the sovereignty of India in Kashmir has to be a first for an Indian politician who ever fancied heading the nation.

Even Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the big daddy of Muslim votebank politics, was most hawkish in his 1996 to 1998 tenure as defence minister, never ceding an inch on Kashmir or the nation’s sovereignty.

The descent into subversiveness

Rahul, however, seems to have descended into a spiral of far Left, subversive standpoint since Narendra Modi swept to power at the Centre and the Congress started losing state after state.

It perhaps started with a conscious decision to position oneself as the counterpoint to Modi’s nationalism. But the line between opposing what the Congress calls “hypernationalism” and opposing the nation swiftly started getting blurred. Rahul walked into a trap. While pillorying Modi, he started attacking the core ideas that safeguard the construct of a nation: identity, security, sovereignty.

Whether it is the military strikes against Pakistan or confrontation with China at Doka La or the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to recall when Rahul has shown the political maturity of standing with the government during national crises and emergency.

Instead, Pakistan quoted him in its petition to the United Nations after India withdrew special status from Jammu and Kashmir.

“These and other acts of violence have even been acknowledged by mainstream politicians such as the leader of Congress party, Mr Rahul Gandhi, who has noted ‘people dying’ in Jammu and Kashmir, in light of events ‘going very wrong there’,” the Pakistani petition said.

It got so embarrassing that the Congress had to hurriedly issue clarifications. “The name of Rahul Gandhi has been mischievously dragged to justify the pack of lies and deliberate misinformation being spread by Pakistan,” it said. “Let no one in the world be in doubt that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and shall always remain an integral part of India.”

If that is so, then why did Rahul stand at Jawaharlal Nehru University in solidarity with organisers of an event which mourned terrorist Azfal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who plotted the attack on India’s Parliament?

Why did he mock Indian ground troops’ and air force’s strikes across the border?

Why did he congratulate three journalists who got the Pulitzer prize for their work on ‘Indian occupation of Kashmir’?

There is a clear pattern of Rahul undermining India’s sovereignty.

Why would Rahul do that?

A political system doesn’t choose as its leader someone who demonstrably undermines it. A nation won’t choose a renegade as prime minister. Rahul and Sonia Gandhi know that.

So, why is he self-destructing?

First, it could be to reclaim the Muslim vote, fanning the community’s fear and mistrust of the Modi government. Is it effective?

No. No party today can win elections by alienating the Hindu vote, relying only on Nehruvian seculars and Muslims. Even Muslims don’t vote in mass, and back regional parties which have a better chance than the Congress in the states.

Second, he is hopelessly stuck in his comfort zone of far-Left politics – like a confused rich kid finding his ‘cool’ in elitist woke activism, his anger against Modi and RSS finding an anchor in the dissent politics of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders (both just got roundly whipped by voters).

Third and the most ominous explanation for this political kamikaze could be that Rahul has given up. Maybe he has abandoned all hope of coming back to power. The brash utterings at broadcasts, childish swipes on social media, radical NGO activism, taking online tutorials from experts (a fumbling spectacle with zero mass connect), and a petulant teenager-like relationship with the nation… all point to dismay.

And that is dangerous for India: Its main Opposition leader making his pyrrhic way out of a failed job with a bad imitation of Joker in The Dark Knight: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

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