Two issues continue to haunt Rahul Gandhi: His family name and his association with the Congress. Minus these two associations, Rahul Gandhi’s losses would have been seen as victories, and if he actually won an election, he’d be seen as a demigod.
Due to these two ‘haunting’ issues, in Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi was boo-ed as a loser, and Modi was hailed as India’s foremost leader, despite neither BJP nor Congress winning a full mandate.
Time to Call a Spade a Spade
I don’t have a problem with anyone calling Modi a baazigar who manages to turn a defeat into a victory. Even I would like to call him a great strategist and baazigar. There is no doubt that Modi is the country’s most powerful and most popular leader. But it is shameful when experts and political pundits refuse to conduct an honest analysis of the political situation.
The reality today is that Modi could not win Karnataka. Amit Shah’s claim that BJP will win 130 seats fell flat. In the beginning, Modi had thought that it would be an easy win; that is probably why campaigning started late. Only fifteen sabhas were planned to begin with, then it looked like things might not go so well. Thereafter, six more were added, making it 21.
Modi’s attitude at the rallies clearly showed his unease and tension; his frustration was evident through his threats. Saying “Congress ke neta samajh len, sun lijiye, agar seemaon ko paar karoge, to yeh Modi hai, lene ke dene pad jayenge” (Congress leaders, understand that if you cross limits, then this is Modi and there will be a price to pay), is no small thing. Especially with Modi’s kind of power and authority as the PM, his issuing threats to the oppositions reveals fear and weakness.
Things Fall Apart
Modi’s supporters need to understand that their messiah is not what he used to be. His ‘magical powers’ are diminishing. The promises of development, the dreams of creating a new India are falling apart. And a new face is emerging – a face that has forgotten about development, which is leading the country on a Hindu-Muslim route, where there is neither respect for law nor sanctity of constitutional vows. There is just veneration of power.
In all this, the mantra of 2014 has been forgotten. The mantra that had assured people that Modi is different from the Congress, different from other leaders of the BJP – the real reason behind the victory.
But when he couldn’t take the country down that path, questions were raised. And when questions are raised, anger is bound to follow.
The truth is that the Rahul Gandhi, whom Modi had declared a “pappu”, gave him a really hard time in Gujarat. Modi’s party may have won, but he himself lost. BJP had to pour in all their strength to manage a majority; just scraping a win, closely missing defeat.
This happened despite the country’s Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah being Gujarati. The two most powerful leaders of the country from Gujarat, and they barely managed to scrape through – this is no insignificant thing. Rahul Gandhi deserves full credit for this Gujarat shocker.
Modi’s Magic Is Wearing Off
While the Congress won lesser seats than the BJP in Karnataka, its vote share percentage was more. Congress got 38 percent while BJP got 37 percent vote share. The conclusion from this can also be that the state’s people are with the Congress, and anti-incumbency is not really the spirit.
When more people were with the Congress how can it be concluded that the party has lost the people’s mandate? In our enthusiasm we forget that if Modi’s charm was really at its peak, then BJP would not have felt the need to rope in the Reddy brothers.
Why did they need to bring back Yeddyurappa who had been expelled from the party over grave corruption charges? Congress could also have tried to pull in the Reddy brothers, to win the elections. But they didn’t. The BJP did. Which clearly means that the BJP did not have full faith in Modi’s charisma; they trusted the tainted Reddy brothers and equally tainted Yeddyurappa.
Feudal Thinking Needs to Go
Now, going back to the Goa state assembly elections, despite CM Manohar Parrikar and Modi’s popularity in the state, BJP didn’t emerge as the single largest party there. The Congress won 18 seats while BJP won 13. But it was Rahul Gandhi who was criticised; nothing was said about Modi.
In Punjab, Congress won an overwhelming mandate. In spite of Modi’s popularity in the state, the BJP-Akali alliance stood third. But the win was credited to Amarinder Singh. So, what this means is, if Congress wins, it’s the local leader’s win, but if it loses it’s Rahul’s loss.
Interestingly, in UP, where Congress has no standing, there too the burden of defeat was on Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi’s association with the Nehru-Gandhi family hinders an objective assessment of him. There should be no space for dynasties and nepotism in politics. In our country feudalism still prevails. This is the reason why there is no party in the country, apart from AAP, that is not cursed with a feudal mentality. To a large extent political parties in India have become private limited companies. This is India’s weakness.
It is feudal thinking that makes a mere human leader a messiah. It is regrettable, but India’s intellectual class is not modern in its thinking; it talks of liberalism but continues to have a feudal mindset. This thinking needs to change.
The question here is not whether Rahul is right or wrong. Here, the question is about the creation of new discourse emerging from the old inertia. But is the intellectual class of India prepared for it?
(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached at @ashutosh83B. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
(This piece has been translated from the Hindi by Mariam Shaheen and was originally published on Quint Hindi.)
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