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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 14, April 1, 2023

Media Pundits presenting a skewed picture of Rahul’s crusade against Narendra Modi | Arun Srivastava

Saturday 1 April 2023


by Arun Srivastava

Post-disqualification analysis by some media pundits and analysts of Rahul Gandhi’s conviction and Narendra Modi grabbing the occasion to disqualify him from the membership of the parliament makes bizarre reading. They say; “the verdict wasn’t unexpected, it was on its way. Truly, there couldn’t have been a better way to tame Rahul Gandhi than by reading him the riot act with a criminal defamation charge.” It emphatically underlines a candid inference that they were sure of Rahul Gandhi’s conviction and subsequent disqualifying.

Some even went the extent of questioning; “why he adopted an aggressive approach. Instead he should have apologised”. Some even blamed his senior party colleagues with misleading him and seek to know why they did not make him apologise”. Some experts are really more imaginative and find involvement of some Congress leaders in the game. Some even feel remorse for he would not be able to contest the Lok Sabha election till 2031.

These experts feel pity for Rahul. They did not try to look into the reasons which made Rahul toughen his attitude to the shadowy game being played by Modi. In the past, they cite it too, Rahul had apologised to the apex court for his remark “choukidar chor” about Modi. But they ignore the fact that the latest case is not of the same character. At that time his prestige was not at stake as he had used the word “chor” for Modi. But in the current scenario he has not directly named him. Naming Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi he had said why all the Modis are chor. There is a wide difference between the two references.

Apology would have completely ruined him politically. Just a month back of his appearance before the court he had unleashed a counter narrative against Modi’s narrative of hate and divisive politics. The gains which could be accrued during his four month Bharat Jodo Yatra would have gone waste. Most importantly his fight for importance of truth in the public life would have gone waste. Uttering two words “I apologise” was more easy than fighting for the cause of the country, protecting the democratic institution and restoring the purity and probity in the public life.

People are free to construe their own perceptions. But one thing is certain that in a bleak scenario when everyone, irrespective of his political and social stature has surrendered before Modi and was not daring to muster courage to speak at his face Rahul dared to call a spade a spade. The Surat Court had asked him if he wanted to “apologise”, but he refused.

The problem with these experts and pundits, with middle class background, has been that they are cut up from the ground realities and roam around in their own metaphorical world.

Little doubt Rahul’s combative stance has not only forced Modi to go on back foot. It has broadened the base of his mass appeal Feedback from the ground suggests the coupling of the two issues — Rahul’s disqualification and the government’s refusal to investigate Adani — has conjured the people to believe that Modi is not a fair politician as he claims. Most of the people have turned sceptical of Modi’s actions and view it as unjust and undemocratic. Even parties which were highly critical of Congress have rallied behind Rahul. Buoyed by this popular mood, the Congress has declared an outreach programme Jai Bharat Satyagrah that will culminate on April 30.

This is a major political gain. This is for the first in the nine year rule of Narrendra Modi that serious charges of patronising corruption and promoting corrupt persons have been made and that is too none else but by Rahul Gandhi, whom he till a year back used to call “pappu”. It is irony that Modi who till recently used to mock all other politicians as corrupt and a person of dubious character, has been finding it tough to open his mouth in public and defend his wrong doings. He has been caught in the quagmire of corruption. It has been a moral loss for the person who claimed at the top of voice that he would not allow corruption to flourish.

In fact his retreat has been a stern caution mark for the urban middle class who has been trying to find all kind of virtues in him. During his nine years of stay in power he assimilated the religion with politics that people have come believe all his nonsensical statements as epical truths. Rahul on Sunday said the reason behind the move to get him disqualified from Parliament was his questioning of Narendra Modi’s relationship with businessman Gautam Adani, and asserted that the Prime Minister was “scared”. His question whose money is Rs 20000 crores which went to Adani. Now the mystery has been decoded. It is the provident money of the 30m crores retired middle class government employees. For serving the interest of his friend, Modi did not deter from betraying the trust of the middle class “andha Bhakts” (blind worshipers) who have been voting him to power.

Congress alleged: “EPFO funds also handed over to Adani? Wah Dost ji. Aapki dosti roz naye gul khila rahi hai. Pahle SBI, fir LIC aur ab EPFO. Pura desh dost ke naam kar denge (Wonderful, friend! Your friendship is scripting new episodes every day. First SBI, then LIC and now EPFO. Will you hand the entire country over to your friend)?”

The nature of his commitment could be understood from his iteration; ” I would keep questioning this “partnership”. I am not afraid of threats, disqualification or prison. My job is to protect the democracy of this country, to save the institutions, to protect the voice of the people and to tell the truth about people like Adani. I will continue doing that no matter what the obstacles or pressure. I have been disqualified because the Prime Minister was scared of my next speech on Adani in Parliament. He is terrified” .

On the day of conclusion of his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar, Rahul had told that he is not the old Rahul. He has invented a new Rahul. He was absolutely right. At a time when the politicians, irrespective of their hue have been clamouring to be identified with the power and enjoy its benefits, he prefers to identify himself as Sanyasi. The message is clear. Unfortunately for most of the experts this shift in his attitude is inexplicable. They look at his change as an instrumenet to win the election. They do not look at it as the mechanism to fight the rightist forces, which are consolidating their gains.

The But one thing is also correct that Rahul’s disqualification has energised the Congress while motivating the Opposition parties of the need for a collective fight against autocratic rule. Significantly Mamata Banerjee who has been quite hostile to Congress and has also made SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to join her campaign against the Congress has stood by Rahul. This is undoubtedly a major gain for Congress as well as opposition. Responding to a question about the political fallout of his disqualification, he said: “Modi panicked and handed over a big weapon to the Opposition. Now a question has germinated in people’s mind: Why are the government and the BJP so desperate to protect Adani?”

Importance of Adani for Modi is implicit in BJP leaders saying attacking Adani is attacking India. Shocking indeed they are equating Adani with India, as was done by Devkant Barooah who had coined “Indira is India and India is Indira”. There is no doubt that by identifying Modi with Adani, Rahul is creating a political narrative for future battles, which is why he is not worried about his disqualification.

BJP, especially Modi has lost the ray of hope is evident from BJP leaders deliberately giving a nasty turn to his remark on 2019. They have been presenting Modis as OBC. But the fact is none of them belong to OBC category. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge slammed the BJP; “They talk of OBC now, is Lalit Modi OBC, is Nirav Modi OBC, is Mehul Choksi OBC, they ran away with people’s money. If they are fugitives why are you pained if they are criticised. You (BJP) punish the person who works to save country and send those abroad who loot country".

There are two more major factors for Modi and BJP adopting aggressive stance Rahul; first, the global fraternity being highly critical and secondly, RSS fearing complete erosion of its newly created base. Already senior politicians in US and UK have criticised action against Rahul. Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, has tweeted: “The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi... is a deep betrayal of Gandhian philosophy and India’s deepest values.” Another US legislator, Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, tweeted: “As a friend of India, this news is alarming. In a healthy democracy, you don’t silence opposition —you debate them. Free speech is essential to democracy &India has already fallen to150 out of 180 in the WorldPress Freedom Index. This is another step in the wrong direction.”

History reveals that it is very difficult to deter an individual who is on the mission to rewrite the history and remove the aberrations from his avowed path. Nobody in the Congress had the guts to warn Rahul Gandhi of the consequences. It is said that Rahul might not have lost his membership if he had not torn the copy of the ordnance that was enacted by Manmohan government. It is quite interesting to watch that Rahul did not mention the past incident. For him he had done the right thing and there is no room for repent. His tweet just after the Surat verdict reflects his mind set; “Mera dharm satya aur ahimsa par aadharit hai. Satya mera bhagwan hai. Ahimsa usey pane ka saadhan (My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the path to truth).” He asserted his determination to fight on in another tweet on the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

If the sources are to be relied Rahul intends to go one step further. He intends to put Modi in a very tattered state by motivating all the opposition members to resign their Lok Sabha membership. At a time when the opposition is not allowed to speak in parliament their presence in the house will not make much difference. If they resign it will create an international embarrassment for Modi and the saffron brigade.

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