BJP’s actions amplify Rahul’s prominence

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about -- Oscar Wilde

Published: 19th March 2023 12:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2023 08:18 AM   |  A+A-

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi delivering a lecture at Cambridge Judge Business School as a Visiting Fellow, on Mar.2, 2023. (Photo | ANI)

The BJP likes to be seen as a party that walks the talk. Rahul Gandhi likes to talk about his walk to expand his party’s footprint. After ambling along 4,000 km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, he has become the talk of the town thanks to the BJP’s scorched earth politics. His loquacious lament that democracy in India is dead under Narendra Modi has saffron sentries screaming sedition, after his last week’s speech at Chatham House in London flayed the Indian government. The Gandhi heir told listeners, “Look, first of all, this is our problem (erosion of democratic institutions under Modi); it is an internal problem and it is India’s problem and the solution is going to come from inside, it is not going to come from outside. However, the scale of democracy in India means that democracy in India is a global public good. It impacts way further than our boundaries. If Indian democracy collapses, in my view, democracy on the planet suffers a very serious, possibly fatal blow. So, it is important for you too. It is not just important for us. We will deal with our problem, but you must be aware that this problem is going to play out on a global scale.” He accused Modi's government of destroying important Constitutional institutions and weaponizing investigative agencies. Rahul’s outrage became a cause célèbre for the Congress and a lost cause in both Houses. Nothing else inflates a politician’s ego more than undeserved attention. Rahul could have avoided London as a venue to be heard even if he rarely gets a credible and captive audience at home to express himself.

Predictably, Parliament opened to the noise of verbal gunfire. The first bullet, surprisingly, was fired from the shoulder of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, an old-style politician who usually stays away from the politics of personality. He vociferated, “Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of this House, insulted India in London. I demand that his statements should be condemned by all members of this House and he should be asked to apologize to the nation.” Singh’s salvo set the tone for more ministers and party MPs to join the caustic chorus, and project Rahul as an anti-India anarchist out to undermine Modi’s India Growth story. BJP President J P Nadda accused Rahul of being a permanent part of an anti-India tool kit. In response, the Congress quoted examples of the BJP and Modi disparaging Indian leaders and parties abroad in the past few years. Rahul had told his hosts that his mike is switched off when he begins to speak in the House: this time he asserted his right to clarify his London statements in the Lok Sabha and the BJP obliged by proving his point and when he rose to speak, the House was quickly adjourned. Unfortunately, the BJP’s first responders are loose cannons who believe that loyalty is best rewarded at its loudest and most bizarre — Delhi Police has issued a notice to Rahul, seeking details of sexual assault allegations during Bharat Jodo Yatra. Rahul is, subsequently, acquiring the image of a man being persecuted — a big win for his image. BJP’s spinmeisters have interpreted Rahul’s reference to global indifference as seeking foreign intervention in Indian affairs. The same BJP, which labelled Rahul a clueless ‘Pappu’ is now giving him the articulate aura of a politician whose words are persuasive enough to denigrate Mighty Modi who is courted by world leaders at G20 and Quad.

Why does it suddenly look as if the BJP needs Rahul more than Rahul needs the BJP as Enemy No 1? Modi’s usual style is to soar with vindication than be sour with vindictiveness in spite of the Gandhi Parivar and its lickspittles spewing scabrously spiteful swill on him like ‘maut ka saudagar’, ‘Ravan’ and ’chai-wala.’ This time, too, he forcefully attested to India’s democratic vigour without naming his denouncer, unlike the saffron sycophants who sought their master's attention by abusing Rahul. The fifties-something Gandhi has been seeking relevance outside his party and the BJP’s overzealous overseers may have just given it to him by amplifying his accusations. The madness is the same, but the method has changed. Having swept the state elections recently, the BJP could’ve taken a chill pill. But the cannons haven’t fallen silent. It seems the party is evolving a fresh long-term strategy by focusing on Rahul as the primary opponent and dialling down the Congress-Mukt Bharat rhetoric. It knows that total Congress marginalisation will only strengthen regional parties, which have more popular local leaders than the national parties. The Congress is in the same boat, since the few local leaders with the mojo to win elections jumped ship long ago. Using ED and CBI, corrupt regional chieftains can be made to fall in line. Saffron Svengalis are plotting a massive win in 2024 by narrowing voters’ choice to Rahul vs Modi in Congress-dominated states. After all, it is the outcome in Congress-dominated states which will decide whether Modi Sarkar gets a third term.

Meanwhile, the Grand Old Party is enjoying the slugfest which is keeping their leader in the limelight. According to opinion polls, Rahul’s ratings have doubled during the past two years. Is Rahul provoking Modi because age is on his side and he is not personally charged with any financial impropriety, except in the National Herald case? Modi turns 75 in 2025. Rahul is his junior by about two decades. Nobody in the BJP even comes close to Modi in mass popularity, desirability, credibility and acceptability. His speculated successor is the most visible and effective Home Minister Amit Shah, who is nearing sixty. On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath has been projected by a section of the Sangh Parivar as an ideal ideological inheritor. But he has been kept away from organisational matters, except to raise the occasional saffron standard at election rallies. The Congress knows that with Modi as the helmsman, it has no chance of doing a Titanic on the BJP. It will play the waiting game beyond 2023, convinced that Rahul is bound to become the most acceptable face to lead India. An amused Congress party is wondering with the Sangh Parivar as his ardent foe, why does Rahul need friends in his yatra to befriend voters and incorporate ideologies? The BJP’s actions today speak louder than Rahul’s words. When the Opposition fails in Parliament, it takes to the streets. When a government does so, it becomes a referendum. Modi triumphed incontrovertibly in the referendum for the soul of India. Rahul aims to win the referendum for the Indian mind using global platforms. The BJP by indulging in  high voltage Rahul bashing is providing him on a platter the public space at home which he is struggling to acquire.


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  • Bala

    Sir I have great respect for yr edotorial As a country let us not stand by stupid people Encourage good people and not numbers and yr sales I value yr paper and I am reader over 55 years God bless Bala email
    6 days ago reply
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