By Sushil Kutty
In Dante’s hell corrupt politicians end up in a lake of boiling pitch. Demons with evil claws and grappling hooks guard the lake. Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman looked like she saw Dante’s Hell when Rahul Gandhi accused her of speaking ‘untruth’ in the Rafale deal?
UPA-II was sent to Purgatory in 2014 for being corrupt. Now, a year short of another General Elections, the Congress is doing its best to parcel BJP to the same hell with Rafale. And the BJP is pinning its faith on Westland Agusta to do the same. One a jet, the other a chopper!
Embarrassing moments for Nirmala Sitharaman. Divine Comedy! With nothing amusing in it for the Raksha Mantri. The ‘secret’ was out. Advantage Congress. If only Rahul had stood his place after daring Modi to “look him in the eye”, it would have left a lasting wound.
But Rahul strayed from the script (written by Jairam Ramesh?). He embraced the 56” chest. Then, he winked. Sitharaman produced evidence and France backed her up. There was a “secrecy clause” and no need to make a song and dance of it.
Later, when the “sun went silent”, Modi showed the error of Rahul’s ways: No one dare look a ‘Naamdar’ (a member of the Gandhi family) in the eye and get away with it, he said, listing out a list of names who dared and lost. From Netaji Bose to Sardar Patel, Pranab Mukherjee and HD Deve Gowda!
The PM forgot. There is one eye that could look Rahul in the eye – the Lok Sabha TV eye! It looked the Congress president in the eye and caught him doing a Priyanka Warrier! He winked. He let it out that it was all histrionics, scripted.
And Rahul Gandhi lost. “The Oscar for the Best Actor goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his blockbuster act,” the Telugu Desam Party announced. BJP MPs did not do somersaults in the aisles. They said Rahul should have got it for the “worst act” in Parliament, ever!
The Day After’s newspapers told the story. Rahul hugging the “hugging PM” was on every front-page. Rahul-supporters called it out-and-out a ‘Rahul Victory’. The headlines said Modi won. Except one which balanced the act: ‘Modi wins trust, Rahul gains confidence.’
Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “Basic message is that the journey is more important than the destination. Failures of the BJP government were put before the nation. Outcome was predictable but the process was successful.” Media celebs Sagarika Ghose, Rajdeep Sardesai and Bhupendra Chaubey gave 100/100 to Rahul. Modi lost, they declared.
In a way they were all right. The Congress succeeded in its quest: Keep the camera and the nation’s eye focused on Rahul Gandhi. It was Rahul’s Dangal. His alone. No Jyotiraditya Scindia or Shashi Tharoor would be allowed to steal the limelight. The show.
That was how it ran. Till the hug and the wink. These days of fake news, post-truth is cool. And ‘post-truth’ is not just about “lying” but also about “gas-lighting”, which means “causing people to systematically doubt what they can easily observe and thus paving the way to create a false reality.”
Rahul Gandhi’s core argument – the alleged hidden score-sheet in the Rafale deal – was based on gas-lighting, not hard evidence. And like Modi said in his reply, it created the unprecedented situation of “two governments” compelled to issue statements. It broke the “confidentiality clause”. Not ironically, the opposition blamed Nirmala Sitharaman!
Rafale apart, it appeared that the Congress and other opposition parties believed that BJP members of Lok Sabha would vote in favour of the trust vote. Rahul alluded to it when he said he was greeted with smiles “and a handshake” by BJP MPs during the short adjournment in the middle of his speech. NCP leader Tariq Anwar said BJP MPs were squirming under the “oppressive hand” of Modi & Shah.
“Why issue a two-line whip?” he asked.
Was Sonia Gandhi also banking on a revolt in BJP ranks when she asked, “Kaun Kahta Hai Hamare Paas Number Nahin?” The BJP won the trust vote 325/126. Actor and MP Paresh Rawal tweeted, “Big moment for Congress, Rahul loses first no-confidence vote.” Jokes apart, “what must the grand alliance be thinking?”
Especially, Mayawati, and Mamata Banerjee. Bot aspire to become Prime Minister, and the spotlight on Rahul Gandhi must have jolted. Mamata has now given a call for ‘Chalo Dilli’ and Mayawati’s BSP has already passed a resolution to make her Prime Minister.
Finally, the anger is not only in Andhra Pradesh for making a mockery of TDP’s no-confidence motion. It’s also in Tamil Nadu! The AIADMK is believed to have voted against the no-trust vote. “Hell has no fury that of the wrath of a Tamilian”, tweeted a Tamizhan. Dante’s Inferno after 12 hours in Purgatory. (IPA Service)