Sunday, March 1, 2015

I know where Rahul Gandhi is

Pankaj Sharma

2 March 2015, New Delhi

The Congress party vice president is
on the path of proving doubters wrong

          When was the last time any-body debated about the whereabouts of a Bharatiya Janata Party president or any other senior leader? The regular presence or absence of any leader for a few days was rarely discussed in the media. Do we know where BJP president Amit Shah has been from time to time? Do we know what his views are on the land acquisition bill? Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s leave of absence from the ongoing Budget session in Parliament, however, has not only made news but dominated the national discourse for several days.

          Although I may not appreciate the theme or tenor of the current political discourse, discussions surrounding Rahul Gandhi must come as a source of encouragement to ordinary Congressmen. That’s the power and relevance of the Congress. I am happy that people ruthlessly scrutinise and judge members of the Nehru-Gandhi family on a different yardstick. This must give every Congressman a sense of pride. I’ve been in the media for the last 35 years, besides a Congress party member for the last 8. Congressmen must thank mainstream media and social media for expecting impeccable conduct from their leader. This could only be expected from the Congress leadership, since the party formulated our socio-political aesthetics during the freedom movement. I am happy the media has set a different yardstick for BJP leaders. After all, how can a party that boasts of nationalist credentials, live with its blotted history of not participating in the freedom struggle?

          I know why media gorillas ridicule Rahul Gandhi. The opinion about Rahul was manufactured with great effort and costs by forces, who worked to legitimise Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. If Rahul was not portrayed as a novice, how can leaders, with such poor credentials, be entrusted with national responsibilities? We all know that there is a paid group assigned with the sinister task of manipulating views on social media. But the tragedy is that some innocent young voters have now fallen into this trap. They now presume that this manufactured perversion is the natural response of the people to Rahul Gandhi. The people know this country and are extremely mature. They are aware of the true worth of any leader. Voters overcome their mistakes in no time, even though falsehood and propaganda do initially blunt their critical faculties. You cannot tailor a person’s judgment for ever. The Delhi election result, for example, showed the seething rage voters felt against the BJP. They felt that the party had taken them for a ride in the last few elections. The Congress, admittedly, had committed some mistakes and the electorate did not see them as an alternative to Modi. The day Congress is seen as an alternative, it will bounce back. Rahul Gandhi is preparing a road map for this particular moment.  

          The poor people’s reaction to Prime Minister Modi’s Rs 10 lakh suit should be a case study for any political scientist, who wants to understand India. Rahul has never attracted that kind of a controversy. He never tries to boast about his ‘friendship’ with heads of states by repeatedly calling them by their first names during serious diplomatic summits. Congress leaders are not known for such indiscretions. Jawaharlal Nehru gave the eternal concept of non-alignment to the world. Indira Gandhi won her spurs for resisting American dominance and Rajiv Gandhi worked hard for laying the foundation of a 21st century’s India. For them politics has been a serious subject. Rahul Gandhi too, was derided by international forces, the corporate and mighty, because he dedicated himself to the politics of a different kind. It is a politics that has not become subservient to self-aggrandisement.

          Have we ever pondered what Rahul Gandhi has done to deserve this ridicule? He refused to join the Government despite several invitations from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He did not become Prime Minister despite immense pressure from fellow Congressmen. He chose to tour the country and absorb life in villages and towns. He spoke for the poor, deprived, downtrodden and the weak and publicly accepted the Congress drawbacks. For intra-party dynamics, Rahul has advocated internal democracy, caste equality and decentralisation of power. Are these the negative traits that made him a ‘person with no fire in the belly’? If yes, have we objectively analyzed how to describe leaders involved in fake encounters, riots and phone tapping? Does that expose our bias, limitations and attitudes? Are we ready for introspection too?

          Falsehood has a brief lifespan. Belief, ideology and commitment are what matters. Rahul Gandhi needn’t worry on that front. I know where Rahul Gandhi stands on key issues. He is heading towards the right destination.

Author is editor & CEO of News Views India

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