As the youth leader of India turns 48, it is time he realises that his desperation to usurp power by all means is sending wrong signals to both his party and the country.
The real test of a political party’s character in a democracy is not when the party is in power but when it is in the Opposition. Not many can handle it with maturity, least of all the Congress which somehow had started to believe that it was destined to be in power forever. And hence Rahul Gandhi, who took his party’s tenure in government for granted, shying away from responsibilities, bunking Parliament at will and disappearing out of the country for long phases, today finds himself carrying out some desperate acts to keep his party in circulation.
To be fair to Rahul, it is believed that he entered politics without any interest and purely because his mother Sonia Gandhi wanted him to, and Priyanka Gandhi wasn’t ready. As late as 2013, Rahul equated power to poison, clearly indicating that he wasn't ready to 'take charge' yet.
Come February 2016. The suicide of a 'half-Dalit' student, Rohith Vemula suddenly gave Rahul an agenda. He immediately latched on to the Dalit cause, blaming the Narendra Modi government for atrocities against Dalits. What Rahul conveniently forgot was his own party's role in suppressing Dalit voices throughout — whether it was BR Ambedkar or Babu Jagjivan Ram.
What followed was his support for the an overt anti-establishment faction at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
This unpretentious flirtation with this faction, soon had Rahul forge a thick alliance with it. This methodology was put to test in Gujarat where Congress used Jignesh Mevani to manufacture an all out caste war, something the state had not seen in the last 20 years.
Soon after, Karnataka saw Rahul adopt an even more vicious strategy: the Lingayat card, where on the eve of the election, the state government suddenly decided to accept a clichéd demand to acknowledge the community as a separate religion. Here, Rahul would hop from one temple to the other and then come out of them to hail Tipu Sultan, as an icon of communal harmony. While all this was happening, Congress secretly got into an electoral pact with the political wing of the toxic, PFI.
Now, the latest information that I have suggest that Congress is going all out to manufacture a major farmers' unrest in Madhya Pradesh, before the state elections, feeding them with lies and venom. A glaring example of how brazenly Rahul could mislead on facts was seen two weeks ago at a rally in Mandsaur where he accused the Modi government of waiving Rs 2.5 lakh crore worth of loans of the top 15 industrialists of the country. The truth, on the other hand, is that not a single rupee has been waived off from any industrialist. On the contrary, nearly Rs 90,000 crore has been recovered from companies since the inception of the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code).
Now the point is, if this ulterior agenda of Rahul was yielding any gains to the Congress, one could still understand his strategy. What is happening in reality, is that in most of the states the Congress has ceded crucial Opposition ground to the so-called federal front. In fact, after the Congress installed HD Kumaraswamy as Karnataka chief minister, the regional parties have realised the helplessness of the Congress. And the Congress consumed with pathological hatred for one man and bereft of ideas, has fallen into its own trap.
So, as things stand today, yes there is a need for BJP to be worried. Ganging up of Opposition parties one year before elections is never a healthy sign. But so far as the Congress is concerned, it is staring at the worst nightmare of its life. None of the regional parties is ready to accept the Congress leadership. Rather, they are avariciously hoping for a 1996-like situation where a HD Deve Gowda kind of dummy candidate might have to be catapulted as prime minister while all of them enjoy the spoils (read ‘loot’) of power.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's 48th birthday should ideally be a time for serious inspection for him. The biggest casualty of his one-point "hate Modi" mission will be the Congress party. Today, Rahul’s position is like a callous student who didn’t study all year and now just before the exam, wants to get through by hook or by crook. In adopting this short-cut, Rahul is damaging his party, besides harming national interests.
My advice to Rahul is simple. Modi will bounce back closer to the elections and win it. A five-year term has slack phases and the current one is probably just that.
Given the Congress' abysmal ground situation today, Rahul can't turn the tides overnight. Instead of depending upon an unreliable and outrageously selfish federal front, Rahul must work on himself and the party in the next few years.
A better thing for Rahul to do will be to spend more time in nurturing the party and give us a straight fight, with a positive, alternate agenda in 2024.
I wish Rahul Gandhi a long and healthy life.
The author is a BJP leader and tweets @tuhins. Views expressed are personal.
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2018 18:08 PM