By Tirthankar Mitra
Rahul Gandhi’s ouster from Parliament following a court order of two years imprisonment can be used by Congress in its campaign in the poll bound states in the coming days. Even as a gloating BJP smirks, it seems to have unwittingly handed over to the Congress live ammunition for its campaign. The absence of the former Congress chief in the Parliament has earned him another brownie point. He is back in the limelight.
At a first glance, the former Wayanad MP may have hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. But then he has been away from the public gaze for too long and has been thrust into it at a time when he needs to project his image a year before the Lok Sabha elections. The court order and the subsequent ouster of Rahul Gandhi has helped the Opposition reap an unexpected dividend. It has put fresh wind in its sails.
Not asking former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to vacate his bungalow even his tenure was over in Rajya Sabha and Rahul Gandhi being asked to leave his official recommendation is likely to be used by his party campaigners. Home is where the heart is to many Indians and Gandhi being served marching orders from his official home will tug many a emotional chord.
Even Trinamool Congress which made no secret of its intent to walk alone in path of opposing BJP has joined the protest against Gandhi’s ouster from the Parliament. Of course, its decision comes in the backdrop of its leadership being hounded by central probe agencies on corruption charges but it’s support has lent more power to the Opposition elbow.
There is certainly a perceptible change in the political climate. While a combined delegation of the Opposition to protest in front of office of Enforcement Directorate by police, the men in uniform did not stand in the way of the protest of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at Rajghat. It seems that the BJP leadership is unwilling to let happen more occasions for the Congress leaders bask in the limelight. It will not let any half chances come the Congress’s way.
Karnataka will be the first of the states to witness the outcome of the combat between the emotional fallout of Gandhi’s ouster and BJP’s organisational muscle. The Congress campaign in this state will among other factors will be based on the emotional quotient that disqualification or imprisonment of a political leader will work in the favour of his party.
A precondition to it is that the political outfit has some base in the state like that of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav or AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa. In Karnataka the strong leadership of Siddaramaiah can do the needful for the Congress.
Another campaign game plan the Congress is banking upon is that Rahul Gandhi’s words for which he has been pulled up by the court were not directed towards any community. It was in no way a hate speech would be focused upon by party campaigners.
To achieve this end the Congress campaigners will zero in on a hitherto not too focused a fact. Neither Nirav Modi nor Sushil Modi named by Rahul Gandhi belong to the OBC community will form a significant part of the poll campaign.
This is crucial as key Congress leaders in the poll bound states are OBCs with extensive followings. Be it Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot, former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and another leader Shivkumar, Chattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel all belong to the OBC category.
It will be the poll tactic of the Congress to point out during the campaign that insulting these leaders will be farthest from Rahul Gandhi’s mind. Congress leaders are hopeful that the voters will see through BJP’s ploy of projecting Rahul’s disqualification to uphold the dignity of the OBCs. It is up to the Congress leadership to perceive the silver lining in the dark clouds. A missed opportunity will cost it dear. (IPA Service)