Rahul Gandhi's attack on PM Modi has put his personal credibility at stake, he can't back out now

The other day Rahul Gandhi spoke of the possibility of an earthquake if he spoke in Parliament; on Wednesday, he says Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "personally terrified" of facing the House because he has some explosive information on the latter. In the absence of any incontrovertible proof to laugh him off, let's accept he is actually in possession of knowledge that could rattle Modi or like the Congress vice-president says could "burst his balloon".

 Rahul Gandhis attack on PM Modi has put his personal credibility at stake, he cant back out now

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Let's look at the matter from Rahul's perspective. It's a big allegation against the prime minister. So far in his tenure, the latter has been accused of many things but corruption. While there has been talk from political rivals about him extending favours to industrialist friends nothing has been substantiated. Rahul, for the first time, is direct in his attack instead of talking in generalities. He has stuck his neck out.

If he does not back his allegation against Modi with proof he would lose credibility. It would seriously damage his personal image and that of his shrinking party. If he is proved to be a liar it would be a blow to his political career. He would not only lose the respect of the people in general but that of all Opposition parties. He simply cannot afford the risk. So we must assume he has some evidence to support his charge against the prime minister.

If he has evidence, it better be strong enough; otherwise Modi, in a spot of bother after four weeks of demonetisation, would come out much stronger. With lives in disarray everywhere after the government trashed high denomination currency notes and no quick end to the widespread misery in sight, this is the best time for Rahul to drum up his pro-poor credential. He cannot allow Modi to emerge looking better by throwing evidence of no consequence at him.

Now if he has evidence of wrong-doing by Modi, then why the delay in making it public? Waiting to speak in Parliament simply makes no sense, particularly since he has hinted at demonetisation being a scam so many times in his interaction with people. One is not sure what the Congress vice-president's strategy is but the fact that he has announced it with some fanfare in the presence of several Opposition parties it becomes necessary that he makes his moves quickly. Keeping the suspense hanging in the days of rapid news cycles does not help.

He has to choose whether he wants to be Arvind Kejriwal or himself. Allegations, often unsubstantiated, have become a necessary tool in Kejriwal's politics. They help bring the media attention to him besides showing political rivals in poor light. As strategy it is not unacceptable since a large section of the media has become overtly partisan, openly towing party lines. But it suits Kejriwal. Rahul seems to be taking the same route these days, being aggressive on social media and throwing random allegations at rivals, Modi in particular, at public meetings. But it is not working for him. Kejriwal shares a trait with Modi — captivating the audience, the styles differ though. Rahul has a big weakness here. He is not convincing enough when he speaks.

If has to make his mark as a responsible leader he has to attach more gravitas to his political moves. Only allegations won't take him anywhere. He has to have weighty evidence and evidence that sticks. Now that he has put his credibility at stake, it's better he does not come across looking ridiculous.

Updated Date: Dec 14, 2016 21:10:29 IST