Irony aside, it is the right of the people to elect the government they deserve. It is also their right to elect the Opposition they deserve. The people of this country certainly do not deserve Rahul Gandhi. This stand-up comic of Indian democracy has made the Congress party a sorry-looking bunch of sycophants with a death wish, who need the dynastic crutch as a lame excuse.
A few recent gems of Mr Gandhi:
“This morning I woke up, at night...”
“Every single city in Bangalore has been...”
“The vision of the Amma...er, Indira canteen...”
“I’m proud that its a Congress government that is conceptualising this scam” (instead of scheme).
The Congress, once led by the eloquently powerful Indira Gandhi and the intellectually sophisticated P V Narasimha Rao, does not deserve this.
History records leaders who were worshipped, admired, disliked or even hated. But never before has a leader been held in so much contempt than Rahul. There is nothing more toxic for a politician to be a joke, and for the Congress, Rahul is very very toxic.
The Gujarat Congress, which pulled off an unexpected victory for Ahmed Patel, is perhaps showing the first signs of this realisation. Its leaders have indirectly communicated to Mr Gandhi that the party’s chances will be hobbled in the 2019 state elections if he campaigns. The Amma canteen scheme, conceived by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as a vote-catcher, has been reduced to a farce by Rahul’s faux pas. The BJP is exulting. Can you blame them? Rahul is winning the elections for them.
Every democracy needs checks and balances to keep its spirit supreme. Power needs to be constantly interrogated to prevent it from running amok, and only a strong Opposition can do it. When the Congress was in power from 2004 to 2014, the BJP was an Opposition party that justified its status. In the last five years of UPA, beset by scams totalling lakhs of crores, the BJP and its able parliamentarians leapt the government off balance. It was also fighting on two fronts.
The government was not its sole enemy—there were self-confessed secular parties in the Opposition who were its bitter foes. Luckily for the BJP, the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, was giving the national Opposition a new form and voice. In Delhi, the BJP was able to disrupt Parliament constantly, forcing the country to listen. The party’s 2014 election campaign was actually launched when the 2G Scam broke in 2008.
Contrary to Lutyens’ Delhi scuttlebutt that Rahul doesn’t want to be in politics, party insiders insist that he very much does. He sees the premiership as his destiny... God forbid... and genuinely believes he is doing a great job.
See, Modi doesn’t need a better campaign manager than Mr Gandhi. To survive, the Congress needs to be rid of the dynasty before voters get rid of it forever. Hoping for history’s help by expecting Rahul to quit politics after losing in Amethi in 2019—a possibility many in the Congress privately do not rule out—is living on borrowed time.
It is better for the party to sit in the Opposition for one more term for an alternative party leader to germinate in the political hothouse, than hoping it will be orphaned without Rahul in 2019. Otherwise, it is doing a disservice to the people of India by denying them the right to have a credible Opposition.