Amit Shah grabs Rahul Gandhi's 'dalali' barb and twists it into a clueless Congress

Amit Shah on Friday twisted the knife into Congress, which Rahul Gandhi had handed to him a day earlier. Taking on the Congress vice-president's rabble-rousing slur that the Prime Minister is trying to "profit from the blood of martyred soldiers", the BJP president, in a news conference, at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, pointed out the irony of it when the scion of a dynasty inextricably linked to the Bofors scandal, 1984 riots and countless other scams accuses his political rival of doing "khoon ki dalali".

If there was a modicum of maturity in Congress' conduct and an early effort to rally behind the government and the army, after the covert operation across LoC, that positivity was quickly dispelled by a series of suicidal comments from party functionaries at various levels. It was triggered perhaps by a crippling fear that the booster dose of nationalism may leave Narendra Modi and the, party in power, BJP soaring. Be that as it may, this was an opportunity that Amit Shah was not going to miss.

 Amit Shah grabs Rahul Gandhis dalali barb and twists it into a clueless Congress

New Delhi: BJP President Amit Shah addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo by Atul Yadav(PTI10_7_2016_000030B)

The rhetoric, outrage and indignation were present in equal measure.

"By saying 'dalali' over soldiers' blood, Rahul Gandhi has crossed all limits. The remarks reflect the Congress' mentality," Shah said during a news conference at the BJP headquarters. "I strongly condemn his remarks. They are an insult not only to the brave armed forces and martyrs but the entire country."

"We want to ask him, who was the dalal in the Bofors scandal? Who was the dalal in the 2G scam? Dalali is a word used for deals. I want to ask Rahul Gandhi how is it possible to refer to this word while talking about the sacrifices of the Indian Army? Is the blood of our soldiers a tradable commodity?" Shah posed these questions at Friday's presser.

Shah then proceeded to answer his own rhetorical question. "From Bofors scandal to coal auction to 2G scam, the Congress knows exactly what dalali means. It is a word that defines them, not us. We are in solidarity with the army and the stellar work it has done."

Shah's presser deftly exposes the chaos and confusion amid Congress ranks, which seems unable to come up with a coherent response, post the surgical strikes on Pakistan's terror factories.

It appears to be divided between the responsibilities conferred by its legacy, its duties as a national party well-versed in statecraft and a gnawing insecurity over its future. Rudderless about direction, clueless about strategy, bankrupt of an ideological mooring, the Congress is condemned to vacillate between competing embarrassments under the 'guidance' of a feckless dynast.

Nothing exemplifies it more than the conduct of its vice-president. Just about a week earlier, in Bulandshahr during his kisan rally, Rahul Gandhi had applauded Modi when news broke about the army's surgical strikes.

"I want to thank him that for the first time in two-and-a-half years, he has taken action which befits the stature of PM. He has my full support. The entire country and the Congress is with the Prime Minister," Rahul had said.

That stance dramatically changed within a span of a few days. During an electoral speech at Jantar Mantar on Thursday, Rahul Gandhi tore into the PM.

The rhetoric, outrage and indignation were present in equal measure.

"Aap kar kya rahe ho jo hamare jawan hain, jinhone khoon diya hai, jinhone Jammu and Kashmir mei apna khoon diya hai, jinhone Hindustan ke liye surgical strike kiya hai, unke khoon ke peeche aap chhupe huye ho. (What are you (PM) doing? Our soldiers have given their blood in Jammu and Kashmir, carried out surgical strikes for India, you (PM) are hiding behind their blood)," he said, according to a report in Hindustan Times. "Aap unki dalali kar rahe ho. Ye galat hai (PM is profiteering from the soldiers. This is wrong)," he said.

Changes in stance are not unheard of in politics, but what makes this volte-face interesting is that Modi did absolutely nothing in the interim to elicit such a response. Not only did he maintain radio silence on the covert operation, he also reportedly warned his ministers against speaking out of turn on the issue. Not for the first time Modi had used his silence as a weapon of political statement when rivals around him were too busy falling over their swords.

While training his guns on Congress, Shah deftly brought Arvind Kejriwal into crosshairs. He portrayed the AAP chief as Pakistan's hero and blamed him for opening the floodgates of controversy.

"We always want to keep our armed forces and their actions above politics. The 'proof' for the surgical strikes was first demanded by Kejriwalji. His comments were promptly picked up and #PakStandsWithKejriwal was trending in Pakistan. After this, there were stray comments from our other opponents," he said. On being reminded of Kejriwal's claim that he stands "solidly behind Modi," Shah advised the questioner to "read between the lines" as Pakistan media has done.

Even in leveling choicest insults and filmiest of dialogues, Rahul Gandhi seems to be drawing less of a reaction from his rivals than he would have hoped for. That accurately describes Congress' situation.

Updated Date: Oct 08, 2016 10:16:54 IST