On Monday evening it appeared to be a humanitarian gesture on the part of Rahul Gandhi to visit an ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi’s AIIMS. However, in less than 24 hours, the Congress president made his visit to see the former prime minister a political issue.
It has been an unwritten code of the Indian democratic polity that you don’t play politics over health and such other personal and sensitive matters of a leader of another party. That’s why no party ever questioned or publicly talked about the nature of Sonia Gandhi’s illness. Rahul is a self-declared prime ministerial aspirant for 2019 and thus it becomes supremely important for him to understand how to treat such a sensitive issue.
During his address to Congress workers at Goregaon in Mumbai on Tuesday, Rahul said that he was the first one to visit the former prime minister at the hospital indicating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and rest of the BJP leaders do not have respect for elders like Lal Krishna Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
He began by saying Modi talks about Hindu religion but in "our religion position of guru is supreme. Guru is the provider of knowledge. Who was the guru of prime minister? LK Advani (he stressed this) but he is not given any respect at functions….We fought against Advani and defeated him in 2004 and 2009. Unki raksha kaun karta hai (who protects him?) Congress party and its ideology… Who fought against Vajpayee, we fought but when he is ill I went first to see him in the hospital because I am a sepoy of Congress party."
It should be noted that Rahul made these remarks about "protecting" LK Advani and taking care of Vajpayee on a day when charges were framed against him by a court in Bhiwandi in a defamation case for calling RSS the killer of Mahatma Gandhi.
Advani and Vajpayee, the two tallest swayamsewaks of RSS rank surely do not need Rahul's protection and sympathy. If Rahul had cared to talk to Advani about social and political proprieties, he would have known that the very first task which Advani handled or was assigned by Vajpayee after assuming office of the home minister and prime minister respectively on 19 March, 1998 was to fly to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the funeral of veteran Left leader EMS Namboodiripad.
As for visiting Vajpayee at AIIMS first, Rahul can claim that he scored a political brownie point over Modi and BJP president Amit Shah or even over Advani but while doing so he clearly forgot that unlike him, many others are closely aligned with Vajpayee for decades and are in touch with his family and doctors. They were advised by the doctors and family to "not to disturb" the senior leader till the initial tests were done and it was advisable for them to visit AIIMS only after doctors and family got a clear picture of the situation. However, by Monday evening the former prime minister's position had become relatively stable. But Rahul, as is clear now, had other intentions.
On Rahul’s second contention of respecting elders and guru, he clearly had no recall value of how his mother Sonia and her coterie publicly humiliated and thrown out the then Congress president Sitaram Kesri from the party.
Rahul supposedly had two political gurus: Digvijaya Singh and Pranab Mukherjee. Singh, whose word during Rahul’s apprenticeship as Congress' number two was kind of law in the party, is now trying hard to find a footing in the party's organisational structure. Once Rahul became Congress president, Singh began walking on foot for weeks on what he called Narmada Yatra as he was divested of one charge after another. The two-time Madhya Pradesh chief minister is now adjusted in the role of a marginal player in the state to work under Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
His other guru, Mukherjee’s position is no better. Senior Congress leaders vied against each to criticise the former president on his decision to attend an RSS function in Nagpur last week. Of all the Congress leaders critising Mukherjee, the most vehement was Ahmed Patel. It is no secret that Patel acts or speaks at the behest of Sonia. Thus Patel’s tweet against Mukherjee could be taken as a command performance, done at the behest of the Gandhi family. The Congress' top family has not taken a contrarian position on the subject either.
More so, the anger against Mukherjee was such that an iftar invitation to be hosted by the Congress party on 13 June was sent only as an afterthought following intense media scrutiny.
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Updated Date: Jun 12, 2018 22:06:28 IST