DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Friday, October 14, 2016

Rahul, Sonia - Like mother like son


Plummeting standards of political discourse in the country can surprisingly be largely attributed to its “Grand Old Party”, the Indian National Congress. Some years ago, its current president, Sonia Gandhi, called Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, “maut ka saudagar” (merchant of death), hinting at his alleged role in the Gujarat communal riots of 2002. She, as the head of her supposedly secular party only had in mind the violence of Hindu “communalists” forgetting that they were reacting to the Godhra carnage that preceded and provoked it. If innocent Muslims were killed by the rioting mobs, the killings in the railway coaches were premeditated and had been preceded by elaborate preparations and were perpetrated on equally innocent travellers. When Gujarat riots are mentioned the killings in Godhra are hardly ever mentioned. In my opinion, these two tragic and unsavoury events should be mentioned in the same breath otherwise it wouldn’t be secular enough.

All that, however, is beside the point. What we came out to discuss was the plummeting standards of political discourse. Looks like, Sonia Gandhi threw the first stone, so to say. Now, years later, her son has made a similar goofy statement abusing the current prime minister in very crude terms. During one of his political campaigns in Uttar Pradesh he was reported to have said that Narendra Modi, the current prime minister, was hiding behind the blood of “jawans” (soldiers who were killed in the Uri attack). He went on to accuse Modi of indulging in “dalali” (brokerage) of army men’s blood – hardly anyone knows what that ment.

Apparently he could not, as usual, express properly whatever he had in mind. Predictably, all hell broke loose and soon thereafter a series of press briefings had to be conducted by his Party to clarify the matter and justify whatever utterances he happened to make. Presumably, in order to make the briefings more effective the Congress President asked Kapil Sibbal, a senior member and a highly acclaimed lawyer to boot, to meet the press. Briefings were just to put across what the Vice President  of the Party Rahul Gandhi had intended to convey which he apparently failed to do, giving rise to a barrage of barbs. Numerous statements were issued on his statements which were generally construed as insult of the Forces in an effort to politically attack the Prime Minister. His accusations were somewhat surprising in the background of his appreciative remarks earlier when he said that the surgical strike was the first PM-like action of Modi.

Nonetheless, the statements came in for adverse comments by political parties which condemned it as an effort to insult the “Army’s valour”. All round denunciation of his remarks came not only from Amit Shah, current president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, even Arvind Kejrival, no admirer of Narendra Modi, too criticized it. That the Army’s sacrifices and bravery was described as “Khoon ki dalali” was severely criticised by the Delhi chief minister. Also the Nationalist Congress Party president and a former Congressman, Sharad Pawar, too disapproved of Rahul Gandhi’s remarks about Modi Government “profiteering” from the blood spilt by the soldiers.

Even the greatest sycophant of Sonia Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad Yadav strongly criticized Rahul Gandhi’s remarks. He said Rahul failed to put across his views in a proper manner. However much Kapil Sibbal may have tried to justify the outburst of Rahul his pleadings did not convince anybody. He knew it and the Congress Party too knew it. Rahul had indulged in some shooting of the mouth out of his visceral hatred for Narendra Modi and that was clear. He hardly has any control over his thought process and much less on his expression. With his hatred for Modi and BJP he gets carried away when he occupies a pulpit and wants to hit both of them hard even if that happens to be uncivil and crude.

Attacking Modi seems to be a pastime with him. Modi, perhaps, presents a larger than life presence to him in front of which he finds himself far too diminutive – which, in fact, he seems to be. He is a reluctant politician and seems to have no mettle for it. His inferiority complex, regardless of the boost given to him by his mother and her sycophants, apparently, does not allow him to climb up to the political stature that his status in his party demands. All said and done, he is unequal to the job that has been chosen for him by his mother and the party over which she presides.

 Ever since Modi formed the government on his own steam, Rahul has been trying to nibble at him. With the kind of majority that Modi mustered at the hustings in 2014 he never had any worries and has consistently ignored Rahul’s jibes. Having no issues, Rahul started with the bogey of Modi’s suit worth Rs 10 lakhs (Rs. one million) that was a gift from one of his admirers. Modi wore it perhaps only once when Obama was in India and then had it auctioned where it fetched Rs. 4 crore (Rs. forty million). Then he started a campaign to run down Modi’s government calling it “suit boot ki sarkar” (a government of suited and booted gentlemen) and went to town telling people that such a government would do nothing for the poor. In the process, he would claim that he and his party men work only for the poor whereas this government worked merely for the rich. He clean forgot his grandmother’s slogan of “garibi hatao” (eliminate poverty) adopted more than forty years ago which was a fraud played on the people. Poverty continued to prevail as her government promoted nothing but corruption. Her daughter in-law much later had to initiate a poverty alleviation programme in 2004 through the newly installed United Progressive Alliance government which enacted Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Rahul Gandhi had also been criticizing Modi’s foreign trips telling the people that while the prime minister goes visiting foreign countries farmers continue to commit suicide at home. He made it appear as if the farmers’ suicides could be attributed to the prime minister’s absences abroad.  This was nothing but another way of running down the prime minister. One does not know whether he found a corner to hide when the reports in the press indicated that messages were received promptly after the Uri attack from the heads of most of the governments of the countries that Modi visited. During his trips abroad he developed personal relations with the heads of states/governments particularly of the West. No prime minister earlier was ever able to forge such close personal relationships with the leaders of the First World as also those of the Third World.

Despite his illustrious lineage Rahul has never been able to attain the heights of his elders in the family. His grandfather, Feroze Gandhi, was a remarkable parliamentarian and he had such guts that he could take on even his own father in-law Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister. He could do that because of his political acumen, innate ability, tenacity and integrity. Somehow, Rahul lacks all that and yet he is being made to strut around in the country’s political firmament as a political leader. His is not politics; his forte appears to be in slinging mud at those who happen to be in power.

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*Photo from internet 
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