By Sushil Kutty
First thing in the morning Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi should do is to compare notes on what they would be saying on whatever that day demands so as to not end up contradicting each other like they were in two different universes. The latest was the other day when Kharge waxed eloquent on the Congress leading an Opposition front against the BJP in 2024 and Rahul Gandhi going all-guns blazing against the TMC.
Rahul Gandhi, perhaps completely unaware of what Kharge had waxed eloquent on, threw the Trinamool Congress under the bus and alleged Mamata Banerjee’s political party always usually ended up helping the BJP. The TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee and Derek O’Brien reacted. Mamata Banerjee must have an itsy-bitsy soft-corner for the Congress, but don’t expect O’Brien and Abhishek Banerjee to have any love lost for the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi minus his Marx beard was deceptive; now with the salt and pepper bushy moustache-beard, he’s even more so. Gandhi in Meghalaya didn’t spare the TMC. It was as if he had come prepared to burn the Trinamool Congress to the ground.
“You know the history of the TMC. You know the violence that takes place in Bengal. You know the scams, the Saradha scam that has taken place. You are aware of their tradition. They came to Goa, spent huge amounts of money in Goa. The idea was to help the BJP. This is exactly the idea in Meghalaya, to ensure that the BJP is strengthened and wins power.”
Don’t forget this wasn’t spoken to any ‘aira-ghaira. This was to Mamata Banerjee’s nephew who has no time for Rahul Gandhi in the best of times forget about tense times. Abhishek gave no hints of Kharge reaching out to the TMC. Instead he called the Congress every name in the book and some that were outside of the syllabus.
Some of the more disparaging words included “irrelevance, incompetence & insecurity”, not to speak of “in a state of delirium” and “I urge @RahulGandhi to revisit the politics of vanity instead of attacking us”. Not to be left behind, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien reminded Rahul of the “exit” of Congress MLAs in Goa even as Banerjee taunted the Congress defeat in 40 out of the 45 assembly elections in India.
This isn’t friendship, or signs of unity. Nothing of the sort. And Kharge is in no position to pull up Rahul Gandhi for mucking up chances of uniting the Opposition against the common enemy. It was Rahul Gandhi who went after the Trinamool Congress, and not the other way round. Rahul Gandhi’s idea of bringing about Opposition unity is weird.
Maybe, at age 80, which happens to be Kharge’s current age, Rahul Gandhi will understand the ‘Great Game’. Till then, there’s no way the Congress ego will fit into the grand opposition unity room. Gandhi stands accused of making “baseless comments”. The way things are, the TMC and the Congress will not see eye-to-eye in 100 years.
In the entire Opposition cast, Rahul Gandhi plays the Wet Blanket. His comments after Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s words of bringing about Opposition unity have had a dampening effect. Kharge made two points: One, opposition unity for an alliance government in 2024. And, two, the unified Opposition will be led by the Congress!
And who goes and spoils the show? None other than the man who gains the most from Opposition unity, Rahul Gandhi. There is no blue blood in Rahul Gandhi, but Rahul Gandhi goes around behaving like he’s more royal than royal blue. At this rate, the Congress will have to wait for Rehan Rajiv Gandhi to take charge.
Kharge in his remarks said the Congress was talking to other opposition parties to bring about opposition unity to take on the BJP. A day earlier Shashi Tharoor voiced similar thoughts. But the Trinamool Congress doesn’t want any truck with Gandhi family’s Congress. There might be a change of mind if Kharge acts as the Congress President that he is and not a poor grandpa of Rahul Gandhi.
Which other opposition parties has Kharge reached out to for Opposition unity? Google search and no names pop up. Apart from a couple of J&K-centric parties. None of the mainland India opposition parties, invited by Rahul Gandhi to Srinagar for the grand culmination of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, turned up. Rahul Gandhi cannot blame any of the opposition parties. The failure is his, and his alone.
Now, it’s up to that portion of the electorate that does not want Narendra Modi to get a third term to come together and vote out the BJP. Not unity of Opposition parties, but a unity of the electorate. Kharge says Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “arrogance” will be his downfall. Kharge should look within his party to fix “arrogance”. He might be surprised, or he might not be! (IPA Service)