A peep into why Rahul Gandhi chooses the wrong battles against Narendra Modi

Rahul Gandhi continues to enthusiastically engage Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the most un-winnable and pointless battles

Abhijit Majumder January 23, 2022 12:24:47 IST
A peep into why Rahul Gandhi chooses the wrong battles against Narendra Modi

Amar Jawan Jyoti, memorial at India Gate. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For someone who has often praised China’s clarity of vision, whose criticism of the Narendra Modi government often syncs with Beijing’s dubious claims, and whose party had signed a yet-undisclosed memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Communist Party in 2008, it is hard to presume that Congress dynast Rahul Gandhi has not read that nation’s most celebrated military mind of all times, Sun Tzu. But it seems he hasn’t.

More than 2,500 years ago, the master military strategist had advised us to understand our enemies, know their strength.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle,” Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War.

And yet Rahul continues to enthusiastically engage Modi in the most un-winnable and pointless battles. The latest one is over the bringing down the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the flame meant as a tribute to Indian soldiers, and merging it with the ‘Eternal Flame’ at the National War Memorial.

Rahul smelled an opportunity. He and his Congress IT cell took on Modi on one of his greatest strong points: the image of a prime minister hawkish on matters of national security and defence.

It quickly backfired. The flame was not extinguished but merged with the Eternal Flame, and integrated with a memorial of war heroes that the Modi government established in 2019. It was also pointed out that the Amar Jawan Jyoti was built at the colonial structure of India Gate, which mostly commemorated Indian soldiers who fought for the British imperialists. The National War Memorial is a tribute to soldiers across every battle and has 25,942 names of heroes inscribed on it.

Modi topped it by announcing the unveiling of a grand statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, iconic revolutionary and creator of India’s first Army, at India Gate. The statue will now stand under the same canopy where the statue of King George V stood till 1968.

Modi can unleash patriotism pro-max at will. But that did not deter Rahul from inviting another drubbing on himself.

The prime minister enjoys massive popularity for his surgical strikes against terrorists in Pakistan and Northeast rebels in Myanmar. The airstrikes after the Pulwama attack that he ordered on the Balakot terror training camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed, deep inside Pakistani soil, will remain a watershed for the nation.

India’s fierce pushback against China at Doklam, Galwan and other places have no parallel in recent times. But Rahul has taken on Modi determinedly on defence against China, when under the Congress, India was humiliated by China in the 1962 war, and lost 45,000 square kilometres of territory — an area larger than Kerala — in Aksai Chin.

Tragically, Rahul does not just read Modi’s strengths wrong, he seems oblivious about his own weaknesses. A sure recipe for repeated rout, says Sun Tzu.

Rahul Gandhi cannot be faulted for single-minded persistence in the face of failure of his assault plans and sometimes serious backlash against them.

He, for instance, kept on harping on a campaign alleging the Modi government was involved in corruption in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. The courts found no wrongdoing. A vast majority of Indians were convinced that Modi was financially incorruptible.

But Rahul lumbered on, cheered by his close and strange coterie of advisers. Before the 2019 elections, the Congress started the ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ campaign. It not just bombed, but likely riled thousands of chowkidars or guards across India.

What is peculiar is that before the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur state elections, the Congress is taking on the BJP government in battles it will never win. Instead, it could have focused a lot more on inflation that stings citizens, especially the poor. Cooking oil prices are abnormally high, LPG cylinders have gotten expensive. The Covid pandemic has made children’s education go online and thus often prohibitive for low-income parents.

But the Congress does not talk about these much. It is as if the party is too scared to succeed. Don’t laugh it off as absurd, because there is even a term for it: achievemephobia. Look it up.

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