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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2738

Mocking Rahul Is Becoming Passe

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

It is hard to understand why the prime minister, still said to be way ahead of all rivals in popularity, has to rely almost solely on mocking the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to affirm his unassailable position.

The Gandhi scion has looked incompetent to revive the fortunes of his party. It is often said that in oratorical skill that sways voters and is a necessary asset for success in politics, he is nowhere near the prime minister. It is not Modi alone who scores over Rahul Gandhi as politician; there are several others, including members of the Congress party, who can excel him. Modi has chosen a proven weak rival for his sparring.

Rahul Gandhi and his family, including parents, grandmother and great-grand father, have long been the target of Modi and the party he symbolises, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It was a useful strategy when the Congress was the ruling party and served as a platform to arouse public sentiments against the then ruling dispensation.

Today, the Congress is viewed by many as a party that is unlikely to regain its past glory in the near future. Concentrating attack on the Gandhi family and the Congress in general, therefore, has begun to sound like a distraction. Instead of answering questions that have come his way, Modi has been reinforcing the impression that he does not welcome being questioned.

There are several issues that have been agitating the public but the prime minister has shown little or no interest in answering them. To mention one issue that has agitated almost the whole of country: Does anyone in the government understand what happens to the ordinary people when there are U-turns almost on a daily basis on the fallout of the ‘demonetisation’ order of November 8--issuing new orders and then rescinding them?

Doesn’t it show that the ‘demonetisation’ move was made without much thought and perhaps little or no consultation with the bank authorities?

As an opposition party, the BJP had led the ‘war’ against corruption. It did not have to provide evidence of the charges while bringing them to the attention of the country. How many of the allegations, made by the BJP as an opposition party, have been proved in a court of law is not clear. But now as the ruling party, the BJP has rewritten the rules: All allegations made against the BJP and its leaders are to be laughed at and imperiously rejected.

No probes are to be ordered and the investigative agencies are not to be involved to prove the veracity or otherwise of the charges. But opposition party members and leaders are to be reviled and prosecuted; some are to be lodged in jail. The CBI was a ‘caged bird’ earlier but under the BJP rule it has been transformed, as if by magic, into a fair and unbiased investigative agency. It has ceased to be matter of public interest that the heads of investigative agencies continue to be chosen by the ruling party without necessarily taking merit into consideration.

Among the many points of criticism of the Congress rule was that it appointed its party members to high constitutional posts. Institutions of learning and research were given to alleged ‘leftists’. Doordarshan and All India radio were not allowed to function independent of the government influence. Modi has made no attempt whatsoever to reverse these policies. The ‘autonomous’ Prasar Bharati that runs DD and AIR has become an avid publicity agency of the government and the prime minister in particular.

If rumour mills are to be believed, the demonetisation decision was taken with the forthcoming polls in UP and some other states in mind. That may be not true but in the light of what is being said to justify the ‘demonetisation’ decision many would be inclined to believe rumours, since there has been no initiative to discourage cash funding of polls. Modi is wrong if he thinks that his suggestion that all polls, state assembly and parliamentary, should be held simultaneously answers that question.

We have got used to hearing that Modi mesmerises the masses with his oratory. His style is screaming speeches delivered in nasal voice and full of rhetoric, excessive gesticulation, pedestrian metaphors and hollow alliterations that may be catchy but mean nothing. If it does impress people they may sooner or later discover that it is a ploy to avoid tackling difficult questions.

If the prime minister continues in the same old vitriolic mode against the Gandhi family and the Congress, he may be overdoing the act with likely unwelcome results as the Teflon starts to come off Modi’s public image. Not because of the accusations about his ‘personal corruption’ or the ‘earthquake’ but because he is being discovered as a leader who appears to be unwilling to see the pain that his policies cause to the people and the nation.

At a time when his promise of ushering in ‘Acche Din’ in ’50 days’ after the end of the ‘minor inconvenience’ caused by the ‘demonetisation’ of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes looks like being totally misleading, Modi mocks not Rahul Gandhi but the vast majority of the people by declaring that only the corrupt are criticising his diktat against the two high denomination currency notes.

The army of Modi Bhakts echoing his laudatory views on ‘demonetisation’ only displays a depth of sycophancy that exceeds the days of ‘Indira is India and India is Indira’. When Modi says that ‘demonetisation’ has caused trouble only to the Congress he unwittingly seems to be saying that the ruling BJP is comfortably placed because it had converted its bagful of currency notes ahead of the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.

At a rhetorical level, he can be asked if any of his party leaders and ministers have ever stood in line at banks or ATMs to convert their currency. Nobody is saying that the leaders should stand in chaotic queues but, at least, they should not rub salt into wounds of the lesser mortals.

Modi has paid no heed to warnings by many economists who are of the view that declaring the two high denomination currency notes will not meet any of its avowed objectives—ending corruption, ‘black’ money and fake Indian currency circulation and cause a setback to terrorism.

Hardly a day has passed in the last six weeks when lakhs and crores of rupees in new legal currency have not been seized from various people, some of them may be couriers or shady people but many of them have been bank officials, bureaucrats and people with political links. Were they making a last ditched effort to hoard money before India is transformed into a corruption-free land?

- Asian Tribune -

Rahul Gandhi
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