Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally acknowledged what people from all walks of life have been talking about Indian politics since the run-up to the 2014 Parliamentary elections: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is one of the biggest assets the BJP has.
"(Congress) ke ek yuva neta hai, abhi bolna sikh rahe hain. Jabse unhone bolna sikha hai, aur bolna shuru kiya hai, meri khushi ka koi para nahi hai. 2009 me pata nahi chalta tha ki iss packet (Rahul) ke andar kya hai. Ab pata chalta hai ye hai ye nahi haina bolte toh bada bhukamp aa jata hai. (They have a youth leader, he is now learning to speak. Since the time he learnt to speak, my happiness knows no bounds. In 2009, no one know what was in this packet. Now we know. If he'd been silent, there would have been a major earthquake).
Modi knew that Rahul's self-proclaimed "bullet-proof" evidence against his personal involvement in corruption had failed to create any ripples, let alone cause an earthquake, as the Congress vice-president had initially claimed. To back his claims about purported transactions made by business houses to Narendra Modi back when the latter was chief minister of Gujarat, Rahul had banked on evidence which the Supreme Court had trashed earlier, even called it "zero", "fictitious" and "not authentic".
Political activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan had spoken extensively on the subject, both inside the court and outside. Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal too had made this charge, but again without any effect.
In November, a Supreme Court bench of Justice JS Khehar and Justice Arun Mishra had said, "According to a judgment of the Supreme Court, Sahara Group's documents are not genuine and are fictitious. We cannot start an investigation just like that on the documents you have produced," the bench said.
Thus, when Rahul made same charges at a public rally in Gujarat, there were no takers for him. And Modi used that to build a favourable opinion.
Rahul may be copying and toeing Kejriwal, line in both style and content, but Delhi chief minister is not impressed. He issued a brief video message on Twitter blasting the Congress, saying the issue raised by Rahul is something he and his party have been saying for a month. "When raid took place on Birla, Congress was in power at Centre. Why did Congress not raise it at that time?" was the question raised by AAP volunteer Akshay Malhotra, and Kejriwal said it was an "important question".
Important question https://t.co/L8AbKBiKHJ
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 22, 2016
Speaking at a public function in Banaras on Thursday, after laying the foundation stone for a slew of developmental projects, a day after Rahul had bared his earthquake threat, Modi mocked at the Congress vice-president. Rahul had said that when 60 percent of India was illiterate, how could Modi push for digital economy ideas?
"Tell me, if someone was educated, then did I do some back magic (jadu-tona) on them, that they became illiterate. Tell me, is he giving report card of Congress government or my government?" Modi asked the crowds on Thursday.
Modi went on in his oratorical characteristic style. Though Modi didn't take any names, his usage of the term "kala mann" (black heart) was interesting. "Kala dhan khul raha hai toh kisi ka kala man khul raha hai (Like black money is being exposed, even black hearts of some persons is also being exposed)," he said.
What would hurt the opposition leaders, particularly Congress, Trinamool and the Left parties is Modi's drawing of parallels between protective fire cover given by the Pakistan Army to divert attention of Indian soldiers to facilitate infiltration of terrorists from across the border. According to Modi, this is the strategy being carried out by leaders disrupting Parliament in order to give protective diversionary cover to the corrupt.
He said that when he was brainstorming over demonetisation and calculating its implications, he couldn't have anticipated the kind of opposition he would face. But now he realises the intensity of the opposition he is facing.
Modi's rebuttal of Manmohan Singh's speech was interesting. He sought to demolish the former prime minister, both as an economist and a politician administrator. "When I spoke about cashless economy, he said how can this technology function if 50 percent people are poor? Tell me whether he is giving his own report card or mine? Whose legacy am I bearing now? People think that he had been former prime minister and finance minister, but not many know that he has always been part of the core team managing the Indian economy since 1970."
Few hours later, Rahul Gandhi landed in Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh and chose to counter Modi's mock at him with a Ghalib urdu couplet: "Har ek baat pe kahte ho tum ki tu kya hai, tumhi kaho ki ye andaze guftgu kya hai" He then repeated his oft-repeated charge against Modi, saying the prime minister's demonetisation drive would benefit only the 50 rich friends, instead punishing 99 percent of India's population.
Updated Date: Dec 22, 2016 19:44:36 IST