Rahul Gandhi goes back to discussing Narendra Modi's clothing: Is he clutching at straws?

Rahul Gandhi sensed a big opportunity for himself and his party at a time when there was a growing sense of negative public perception surrounding the government’s latest regulation on putting some provisions on cash deposits worth over Rs 5,000 in demonetised currency notes.

To demolish Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one pithy remark, the Congress vice-president returned to ridiculing the prime minister's sartorial sense by tweeting:

Translation: RBI is changing rules like the prime minister changes his clothes

In the past two-and-a-half years — ever since the time Rahul and his party were thoroughly vanquished by Modi, the only talking point the Nehru-Gandhi family scion could raise against the prime minister was his 'suit-boot' jibe. Readers may recall that Rahul had accused Modi of running a 'suit-boot ki sarkaar' in a thinly-veiled allegation against the prime minister of appeasing the wealthy.

 Rahul Gandhi goes back to discussing Narendra Modis clothing: Is he clutching at straws?

Representational image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

The 'suit-boot' remark was effective as it got Modi to change the way he presented himself in public — discarding the suits after giving his critics ample ammunition to fire at him following the auction of his pinstripe suit that was auctioned for Rs 4.31 crore. He did announce that the proceeds would go towards cleaning the River Ganga. But the 'suit-boot' moment came and went a long time ago. However, Rahul is still there, desperately trying to clutch the straws that could give him some mileage and make him somewhat relevant yet again. It remains to be seen if his latest jibe — which is apt and almost as catchy as the first one — will be quite as effective as 'suit-boot'.

It's true that the RBI and finance ministry have been far too frequently changing, overruling their directives with other ones and in the process, causing confusion, irritation and antipathy among a large section of people — bankers and customers included. But to say it is like the prime minister changing his clothes is meaningless pontification. That was precisely the reason Rahul's tweet could only have caused a mild storm in the teacups of die-hard loyalists of the Congress' first family. In any case, the nation at large would likely not have had a complaint with a prime minister who is cleanly and smartly dressed. Rahul, perhaps, has grown too accustomed to an obliging and colourless prime minister like Manmohan Singh.

It’s not the outfit, but inefficiency that troubles people. Shivraj Patil is still a revered leader of the Congress, but he was ultimately sacked in the aftermath of the 26 November, 2008 terror attacks because he was perhaps more concerned about his clothing and combed hair than the nation’s security. Rahul would do well to think about the then home minister, the former Maharashtra chief minister and former governor.

The problem for Rahul lies somewhere else — using words, the meaning and implication of which are not known to him. It has been a week since the time the time he grabbed the headlines by making claims against Modi at his first-ever structured press conference in Parliament House: “Read my lips. The prime minister is personally terrified with the information that I have. I have information on the personal corruption of (the) prime minister,” Rahul said, adding, "I want to reveal in Lok Sabha, (but) the government is not allowing me to speak. The prime minister is afraid that if he lets me speak, his balloon will burst.”

The Winter Session of Parliament has ended, but the nation is still waiting for Rahul to make that big bang exposé. But, for now, he appears to be busy on Twitter:

However, the Congress honcho has not moved any further in that direction, short of repeating his usual rhetoric: "Demonetisation was done to benefit Modi's 50 rich friends (business and industry families)", "There are no suited-booted people standing in queue for money", "Modi has indulged in the biggest-ever scam of Independent India" and so on.

In his recent rally in Jaunpur, he even sounded frustrated when the audience did not respond to his high-pitched school master oratory, saying that at the time, they would not understand what he was saying, but in the months to come, his words would make much more sense.

File image of Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Narendra Modi. PTI

It has been more than 10 days since Rahul famously claimed, "If they allow me to speak in Parliament, you will see what an earthquake I will bring."

It can be safely said that Rahul did not make the earth shake. He didn’t speak and the threat of an earthquake with Parliament House as the epicentre was averted.

Additionally, Rahul’s narrative is flawed. It was back in the 1990s when India junked his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru’s public sector as commanding heights theory. Even in the Permit Raj, private capital had an important role to play. Rahul thinks private capital and big business was synonymous with corruption. He implies an unbelievable proposition that no politician, no bureaucrat or professional is corrupt. That’s why his audience does not respond to him, just as they did not respond to his “khoon ki dalali” jibe against Modi.

As for 'suit-boot', Rahul should remember that an elite suited booted SPG over whom the government spends a fortune in public money guards him around the clock. And the next time he repeats his 'suit-boot' jibe, he should pause and reflect on this.

Updated Date: Dec 21, 2016 13:39:56 IST