Sunday, December 4, 2022

DO NOT SLIP OFF, RAHUL!

Dr. K.  Srinivas

Social media is fully engaged with the photos and accompanying complimentary comments about Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. Some treat him as the saviour and for some he looks like a messiah. Some are even singing with joy about possible light at the end of the tunnel sooner or later. One doesn’t know how much greatness does Rahul really deserve in this, nonetheless one thing is sure that this reflects the aspirations of the Indian social fabric, at least a part of it has been longing for some change however small it may be, for some relief however minimal it may be, for some it also reflects hope that could be a promising one. This time is like an oasis for those depressing souls that feel that the present times are too bad to reckon with and that there doesn’t seem to be any ending. Is this Jodo yaatra really such a promising one? Kudos from admirers notwithstanding, can this traveller overcome the attack unleashed by the critics from all the corners?

Rahul lampooned by BJP and  its media

Rahul Gandhi, the political persona of the day, is the united creation of his own background, his own political party, rival political parties and the media. The ruling party at the centre which has mastered the technique of using all media platforms for the past eight years in order to make them toe to its line by a magic spell, has defined Rahul in many ways to suit its political interests…. Rahul is an indifferent human being. He is a maverick who suddenly flies off to foreign countries. He is a suspect who can indulge in negotiations with a Chinese agent in a night club. He is a small brat who fears taking up responsibilities. He plays a philosopher role while his own party is sinking deep. He is a chocolate boy. He is like a pappu… so on and so forth. The mainstream that has chosen to put him aside using these types of descriptions and addresses, suddenly finds itself the need to rise to the occasion. All the above mentioned attributes became necessary only because there is some element of influence that he carries with him. He belongs to Nehru’s clan, his last name being Gandhi, grandson of Indira, son of Rajiv Gandhi, put together he has all the power at his disposal to become an axle to the wide people’s platform called Congress. Blame it on the bad times, though the party reached its lowest level, the “Congress grass” is still capable of a new birth, if any seed still remains within.

BJP fears Rahul and Congress

That’s exactly what the BJP fears. When it won first in 2014, it could never predict such a landslide victory, it never thought Congress could go down so badly. Never did it think that it could cling on to the power if Hindutva is carried on to a high pedestal. In fact, if it did, it would have intertwined religious elements with the slogan of “achche din” during 2014 election. Should it win the consecutive elections, it must relegate the Congress party to a position that looks just like a nominal one. Hence it came up with the slogan of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat.’ Because this target too had been achieved, it evolved a strategy of finishing off the regional parties and aimed at the States where Congress is in second position. It is at this juncture that the Congress is re-testing its relevance. Congress means the remnant one. Those exiting now will exit, those who are waiting to quit, will also quit. That Congress will be the one that will have those who walk with Rahul for 150 days of yatra.

Strong opposition is healthy sign of democracy

From the people’s point of view it is the need to have a main Opposition that has some voice. It is not desirable for democracy to have only one party with unflinching power with unquestionable authority, and it’s continuation without any interruption. It’s not good for People’s welfare either. If one agrees that there should be at least one alternative, it is not necessarily the Congress party. Any of the regional parties can ascend to the national level or such parties can come together and compete with the one in power. But the fact remains that the Congress remains the second largest party garnering more votes at the hustings. While Congress secured 19 per cent of votes during the last polls, the next in line was Trinamool Congress Party that bagged only 4 per cent of votes. If there is any party that can claim that it is the only one fit for challenging the ruling party at the centre, it is the Congress. Let’s keep the number of votes aside, it is the Congress that enjoys national stature and existence in more states. Against this backdrop, if a political front should be formed with more winning chances, it is not possible without Congress. The dual purpose of BJP raising the slogan of Congress Mukt Bharat is to eliminate a national party and get the regional parties surrender to it.

KCR’s national politics

There, of course, are some parties that may attempt to fill the void created in the event of Congress drying up. They at least tend to become a bargaining power in the event of a political front becoming a reality. Rahul’s Jodo yaatra has become an irritant to these parties too. For instance, Kejriwal has already announced in Gujarat that Congress is finished. The AAP nearly surrendered to the BJP, has been eating away at the Congress vote bank. Delhi, Punjab, now Gujarat, if possible Goa tomorrow… KCR suddenly started blurting out about forming a ‘national’ party, on the very first lap of Rahul yaatra. As the proverb goes nobody can question the emperor’s garbs. Otherwise, no point in KCR’s talk of national politics. Is he going to national level politics or going to start a national level party? One can play a key role in national politics even without founding a party. NTR continued to play a vital role as the leader of National Front even after winding up of the idea of launching Bharat Desam party. What is the use of a nominal national party like the All India Anna DMK? What great position can a Telangana national party enjoy amidst the other national parties? It’s ridiculous to think of starting a national party by eliciting statements from his own party men. Finally, only one, Kumara Swamy, from the neighbouring state of Karnataka, came and encouraged KCR to start a national party. But even he has not offered to join the national party that KCR has been threatening to launch. Both of them sat together for a while and threw brickbats at Congress. They pooh poohed the Congress capacity to become an alternative to the BJP. They have the temerity to claim that Rahul started the yaatra keeping  Karnataka elections in view. Why should Congress pursue this course of action if it wants to fight against BJP is their rhetoric. Even if it is presumed that all the regional parties or some of them can come together and form a front in a bid to counter the aggressive BJP, given the fact that leaders like Sharad Pawar, Stalin, Tejaswi, latest being Nitish not ready to cut off with Congress, then the efforts at “national” level would be doubtful and prone to even suspicion.

Corporate media forced to coverage to Rahul

Now that it has become inevitable for the national corporate media to give positive coverage for Rahul’s yaatra, the opponents too are busy cooking up negative stories. On Wednesday, the moment Rahul criticised Modi on the latter’s policy towards China, BJP strategically usurped eight Congress MLAs in Goa. Those who indulged in blame game and criticised Rahul as being a person who doesn’t have anything to do with the people, or disconnected from reality, are now shooting questions if such  yaatra is necessary at all. The fact that Rahul is going to be on the roads in the next five months, and will continue to occupy news space every day is something that none can ignore. What’s more,  this is a  Jodo yatra, not an electoral yaatra. Those who are questioning as to why there is no yaatra in Gujarat, or why it’s only two days in UP, are the ones who think that this is a pre-poll yaatra. But Rahul says that this Yaatra is to spread a value and to spread a message. This is a welcome resolution. We all know that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t move with the public, he even hesitates meeting with the reporters. Therefore it’s definitely very special for a politician to go around and meet the public for so long and talking to them. History tells us that regardless of the opinions propagated by various media, anyone who mingles with the  people will have the advantage of leaving an indelible mark of his own on the people. Rahul must tell the people how different his approach will be with regard to the political and economic issues. He must tell how different his policies would be, and how they are different from his own party’s old policies. He must tell the people what he is going to do on his own. Probably there may not be any big difference. Perhaps hopes may even be inevitably dashed off finally. Still efforts must be made, with a realisation that a march begins and marches forward. Without a dream or a hope, there won’t be any journey into the future. Rahul must spell out that he not only opposes the divide and rule politics, that he vehently opposes the present scenario of politics of hatred and injecting venom in the culture. He must tell how constructive his policies would be. He must promise that he will do away with the politics of stifling the protesting voices. He must promise that he will ease out the situation where public dissent is suppressed. No need to voice these things like election promises.  He must realise that these are the democratic aspirations of the people and propagate fundamental values of democracy. While the yaatra goes on, if he questions the anti-people policies, if he talks about ideals and values, if he is seen as a person opposed to heinous political statements, the wind will certainly blow in his favour. Such a development will eventually remove the waste fellows within the party. If the educated people with ideas and ideals who hate the politics of hatred join him, he has the potential to become a Jaya Prakash Narayan who influenced masses in 1970s. Thus, Rahul can rightly become the torch bearer of the party that once led the Independence movement. Rahul must note that this is an opportunity bestowed upon him by history.

(Translated from Telugu to English by Jagan, a senior journalist)

(The writer is editor, Andhra Jyothi, Hyderabad)

15 September 2022

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