By Sushil Kutty
If anything, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi is relentless in his attacks on the Modi government and he is not afraid of calling a spade a spade, does not matter how many would be waiting to mince his comments to mincemeat. Gandhi makes no excuses and he spreads his net wide. That must be why the Bharatiya Janata Party has concentrated its attacks on Gandhi throughout the nine years of Modi rule.
Clearly Rahul Gandhi has been a clear and present danger for the Modi-led BJP government. The BJP could have, and would have, dismissed the Gandhi scion as a nobody at least after the 2019 general elections verdict which established Prime Minister Narendra Modi as unbeatable and miles ahead of his political adversaries. But no, the BJP could not let its guard down, not as long as the Congress commanded 20 percent of the national vote share and Rahul Gandhi wouldn’t cow down.
Something that Rahul Gandhi does and which the BJP and the Modi government fears and compels it to ridicule are Rahul Gandhi’s foreign trips, especially to democratic bastions like the United States, and to Britain. It is on such trips that the former Congress President sharpens his attacks on the Modi government with stinging observations on the state of democracy in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Quite naturally, therefore, Rahul’s foreign tour itinerary is the butt of numerous jokes that are borderline slander. A lot was said when Gandhi set out on the Bharat Jodo Yatra with BJP leaders lining up to ask “when will ‘Pappu’ break yatra and head for Bangkok?” Nothing of the sort happened and Rahul Gandhi finished the 3750 km yatra with just a single break, when he had a stopover in New Delhi for the New Year.
It definitely disappointed an array of BJP leaders. And now with the Bharat Jodo Yatra behind him, and a crucial election year ahead of him, Rahul Gandhi is back abroad telling foreign audiences that all is not well for democracy in India, the world’s largest democracy.
In the process he appears unbothered how his words would be taken “at home” as the “truth has to be told”. What confounds and bothers the BJP is that Rahul’s tirade on foreign shores isn’t much different from the many observations on the state of India’s democracy emanating from other diverse foreign sources.
So much so, there has been continuous bad press for the Modi regime, non-stop opprobrium. Such that even the articulate EAM S Jaishankar is making mistakes, what they call unforced errors, while defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. That includes Jaishankar’s interview faux pas that China is too big a country for India to stand up to it.
The Opposition was quick to latch on to it to lambast the Modi government’s China policy, i.e., if, at all, the government had a China policy? And Rahul Gandhi has taken EAM Jaishankar to the cleaners while in London, comparing the Ukraine-Russia faceoff to the India-Ladakh-China standoff, and wondering for how long would the United States and the EU remain silent and unmoved because India translated to “paisa”.
“So called defenders of democracy like the US and Europe are not doing enough to restore democracy in India. It may be because of the trade and money they are getting but they are not doing anything to reset democracy in India.” Those are Rahul Gandhi’s exact words as he vented his frustration and anger at the situation in India. With that the Gandhi family member set off an intense debate in India on his intentions.
Rahul Gandhi has been quite vocal on the “brutal attack” on the “structures of Indian democracy” and, of late, the Congress has been asking opposition parties to unite to defeat the BJP/RSS combine. Now, he wants global powers USA and EU to join India’s opposition parties to rid India of Narendra Modi and his “undemocratic regime”. But while his intentions may be honourable such talk does not usually invite bouquets.
Rahul Gandhi’s appeal to the United States and EU to “reset” India’s democracy has set the Ganges on fire, but the heat is on the Congress. Is Rahul Gandhi asking America and the European Union to impose sanctions on India? Does he want a return of the British Raj? These are some of the questions being bandied about. It is difficult to come to a conclusion on what could Rahul Gandhi and the Congress strategy be when they mount such a line of attack on the Modi government?
Is the Congress leader sending out a warning that just like the “Allies” delayed in the late 1930s which allowed one man to subvert democracy in Germany, such a situation was being allowed to prevail in the India of the 2020s, too? That it was now or never; that western democracies can delay intervention in India only at the world’s peril?
Rahul Gandhi sought US and EU intervention at an event of the Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA) in London. “The media, the institutional frameworks, judiciary, Parliament is all under attack and we were finding it very difficult to put the voice of the people through the normal channels,” he said. The question is, does the rest of the Opposition agree with Rahul Gandhi that America and Europe should have a go at Modi? (IPA Service)