by Rajesh Kumar Sinha 30 April 2023
Indian political landscape has undergone an incredible change in the last few years. Specially since 2014, its been unthinkable with the once dominating political entity, Indian National Congress (INC) led by a dynasty, has been looking in wilderness, down and frustrated with no hopes of any resurrection in the immediate future. However, there have been a miniscule section of politicians, media, academicians and activists from varied segments of NGOs with questionable antecedents, who continue to propagate that the revival of INC, led by the 15-times re-launched scion of the Nehru dynasty, Rahul holds the key and who is about to take over India’s rein, post the so-called success of Bharat Jodo Yatra and 2024 general elections in the country.
Though none from political spectrum explicitly talks of Rahul as a probable prime ministerial candidate, including top Congress leaders, hypothetically speaking, to satiate emotions of a section of anti-Modi self-certified intellectual class, let us first find out if the current incumbent PM Narendra Modi has become so unpopular among the electorate that a man with questionable leadership skills and qualities, Rahul could even be considered an option? The fact is that Modi continues to remain popular as the first choice for leadership, not only in India but he is also rated as the most popular global leader in all recent studies/surveys. As the Gallup Research puts him as the most popular Global leader with an approval rating of more than 78% and latest Times Now survey suggests that even at the beginning of 10th year of his premiership, he is well-placed to win the general elections due in a year’s time comfortably.
As indisputably the tallest leader of Congress party, Rahul does not have any distinguishable attributes to claim the top position. There are leaders like Tharoor, Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Prithviraj Chavan and many others who are academically bright and have a decent politico-administrative record to boast of credentials that Rahul does not have. Except the tag of Nehru clan, his performances inside and out of Parliament, his own constituency, his interactions with commoners and media, all indicate his lack of ideas, knowledge, understanding and above all leadership.
His previous two visits to the UK in the last one year (both political ones in the hope of resurrecting his political career a la Indira Gandhi did after 1977), turned out to be big disasters and controversial, in spite of tremendous media/PR support by vested interests. While his interactions, including media were publicized as impromptu, the fact is that it was carefully choreographed by Ms Mukulika Banerjee, a long-time supporter of Nehru family.
Rahul’s fumbling against usual expected questions; forget foreign/strategic issues, clearly showed his lack of knowledge and homework. No wonder, except the leftist leaning media, the mainstream simply ignored his visit. Independent journo Isabel Hilton rightfully remarked that his Chatham House interaction (incidentally had only one India expert) lacked substance. During his May visit to UK, Rahul had a private meeting with Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (infamous for his anti-India rants on Kshmir), followed by explicit bonhomie with Labor leaders, further reinforced his image of unrestrained leftist leanings at the cost of Indian national interests.
His incessant anti-Modi chants on India’ China policy suggests that he intends provoking the government to get into a fight with China. Since India is not adequately prepared for a full-fledged war now, an embarrassment there could open his chances of getting into power. Hence, he is doing everything to force Modi to fight a war with China (similar to what his maternal grandfather Nehru did in 1962 and brought disgrace to the nation).
His comments suggesting major powers like US, UK, Europe should use their financial leverage to remove Modi from power, democracy allegedly being in danger and those minorities like Sikhs, Muslims are treated as second-class citizens, evoked sharp reaction and controversy and with valid reasons. The fact is ant-Modi rhetoric, including explicit abuses/threats; propaganda is rampant in media, academic circles, politics and the same people do not get tired claiming, Modi is fascist, authoritarian.
When courts, media, ECI goes against ruling party/government, opposition parties win elections in states, local bodies, the same people refrain from talking of democracy. However, in case of any voice in favour of government, these parties, including Rahul/Congress start alleging of institutional decays, democracy/constitution being compromised and so on.
On the issue of minorities, an objective analysis clearly proves that there have been isolated incidents of attacks on individuals belonging to Hindus, Muslims and Christians. However, one cannot prove conclusively that minorities have become insecure or in danger of so-called genocide as political opportunists in India/west like Ilhan Omar/Gregory Stanton would like the world to believe and Rahul would propagate lies/propaganda.
In course of his purely political attack on PM, the Congress leader Rahul explicitly stated in the Chataham House interaction that Modi believes/says that Sikhs/Muslims are second class citizens in India. It was clear that Modi never articulated this kind of idea, it was a blatant lie and defamatory too. His open exhortation to a Sikh gentleman among the audience could well be construed as explicit instigation of minorities in India.
The fact is that the Leicestershire (UK) violence against Hindus and vandalism by Khalistanis at the Indian High Commission premises both incidents occurring post Rahul’s comments on BJP spreading kerosene and one spark could lead to big trouble and alleged second-class treatment to minorities, were both deliberate misinformation aimed at scoring political brownie points and irresponsible, to say the least.
A man like Rahul Gandhi who has repeatedly been tried and tested, backed by enormous financial fortunes of Indian corporate, media, sections of anti-Modi academicians, activists and foreign governments (unhappy against Modi’s consistent stand on the Ukraine war); one who is considered irresponsible and indecisive even by his own senior party colleagues (quite a few of them have left Congress in recent times, blaming him specifically for party’s sorry state of affairs) and frequently seen leaving his party organization in the lurch and going on unfamiliar foreign sojourns at critical times, certainly cannot be considered as an option, forget being a credible one against Modi who with an impeccable track record of dedication, financial honesty with of course, streaks of authoritarianism ingrained in him, stands miles ahead of him in any sort of leadership contest.