I have been a strident critic of Rahul Gandhi and of Sonia Gandhi's desire to push him into politics. I loathed her desire to anoint him on the throne, which all parents do. This was till early 2017. She still went ahead and anointed him the president of the grand old party in a sham of an election. We were left with no choice. Maybe, she wasn't left with a choice too.
On the other hand, a massive effort was mounted by the BJP to de-legitimise all opposition. The BJP's path to 2019 starts with making opposition look incapable, incompetent and corrupt. In 2014, they succeeded with the 'pappu' jibe and in 2019, they will come up with the Khichdi theory.
Meanwhile, aided by his anointment, Rahul came into his own. He grew. He took control. He was free. He was decisive. He was aggressive. He was throwing punches unheard of earlier. He was combative. He hit the road like no other. At the same time, he was thoughtful and compassionate. He had empathy. He accepted his mistakes. He knew his failings. He worked on his weakness. Most importantly, he had his heart at the right place. He was no longer behaving like a typical Indian politician. He was surrounded by wisdom. He shrugged off the old style of politicians that surrounded Congress power centres. His attitude was refreshing.
File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP
He showed the hunger to win, the fire to rule while not looking like a greedy power hungry politician. He was not taking the baits thrown at him and behave petty. He took the blows on his chin and rose to fight, again. And he took on the mantle of congress to stand tall in Gujarat and Karnataka. Yes, Gujarat too. He took the BJP by its horns " alone " against the combined might of the BJP, its Cabinet, its top leadership, the Narendra Modi magic, and the forceful Amit Shah. He took on the Reddy brothers. He took on every gauntlet thrown at him with elan.
The BJP's opposition to Gandhi family is nothing but to remove the only long term impediment in their desire to grab power. BJP's nationalistic rhetoric, their love for Hinduism, their so-called anti-corruption stand has been exposed time and again. They walk out on the national anthem, use religious places as a business model and invite every corrupt politician to their ranks to grab power. Ayodhya is the route to Delhi and 'border' the route to Parliament. This level of greed for power is neither seen nor heard of by any other political party. Everything that comes in its way is de-legitimised or eliminated. The Mahatma, the Gandhis, the Nehrus, the Dalits and the Muslims are a threat for them. The soldier and the devout are an instruments in their power grab.
The Gandhis are much maligned like no other political family. Conspiracies, corruption and character assassination " all abused to pull them down. We are 48 months into this government, and NAMo and BJP, with all the 'Janam Pathris' they claim to have of the Gandhis, with all the investigative powers, all the law enforcement agencies at their command, BJP has drawn a blank. Every allegation against the Gandhi's continues to be an allegation and will be repeated in 2019, again. The bank statements with (US) $ 600 billion that the Gandhi's allegedly amassed hasn't been found. The National Herald case remains where it was in 2014. In fact, The National Herald case is a textbook case where every politician who is a trustee will get convicted, if the same rules are applied. And I have seen far too many politicians with cases against them, right from the prime minister to Amit Shah to all the ministers and chief ministers ruling the country to deem it a disqualification. Like Vadra, the sons of BJP supremos have taken over too. Like UPA, companies owned by families of BJP ministers have amassed wealth. And the added paradigm in BJP is the money bags business man - represented by the Reddy brothers, Mehul Choksi, Sujana Chowdhury and even Nirav Modi.
Add to the insult is the injury. The 2G accused are freed under a sham of a prosecution. The Mallyas have been flown out. Nirav Modi showed us the middle finger. The Saradha scam accused have become clean after joining BJP. Lalit Modi remains allusive. Dawood still rules from Islamabad. Narayan Rane is now BJP. Sukhram is BJP. And so are the Reddy Brothers. Trump is making Indians suffer in America. Nepal, the only Hindu state, has drifted towards China and communists. Even Vadra, No.1 enemy of BJP and a clear case of crony capitalism roams free. Karnataka has shown the mirror to Modi and Modi's India.
The hatred to the 'aristocracy', the 'first family', the 'khangress', the 'sickular', the 'Italian' connection, are drugs injected into our subconscious with clinical precision. And the weak amongst us remain drugged. The hatred to the Gandhi family shrouds their judgement of what is good for India. They want Gandhi's punished more than India benefitting. The vendetta is more. The malice is more. The hatred is more. And wishing well for India is to that extent lesser.
Modi was a choice many of us made, me included. He was perceived to be aggressive, pro-development, exuded the right intent, had his heart in the right place. But this was a perception sold to us again with clinical precision. A team of young smart and intelligent people, led by Arun Shourie, sold this to all of us. This has been proven beyond doubt as a false narrative.
And what have we got. We have China eating into our pride. We have Senas being born on every issue, this after seeing Pakistan self-destruct itself having created such outfits. We have mobs ruling us. Your young daughter having a coffee with a Muslim friend could be beaten up. Your young son sitting in a restaurant that served beef could by lynched. Your handicapped mother that couldn't stand for the national anthem could be beaten. A Supreme Court order doesn't carry any weight. The corrupt still thrive, and if you join the BJP, come clean too.
The rich have become richer and the poor poorer. The stock markets have shot up about 50 percent while the economy has slipped massively. Jobs have shrunk. The youth have no direction. SSIs, MSMEs suffer. The so called black money in Swiss banks remains in the vaults, still. We still await the Rs 15 lakh in the bank. We have more soldiers dying at our borders than ever. Kasmir has more strife than ever. Vadra is still roaming free.
One can argue that Modi is not responsible for all the lawlessness even in BJP-ruled states, but is definitely responsible for the silence that he so obstinately practices on such matters. His Twitter following of the rioters emboldens the fringe and the fanatical. If you want to be noticed, you need to attack the Muslims, the Dalits and fight for our culture. And the essence of culture is as defined by them. THEM. We are creating armies of humans to protect GOD.
We now live in a country where the government talks culture, priests talk governance; philosophers talk administration; babas preach peace; HRD ministry imposes patriotism; technology institutes talk vedas; medical institutes talk anything than science and Smriti Irani rules media and HRD. We live in an India where the mobs determine law; judicial orders remain on paper and law submits itself to the mobs.; where constitution is at the mercy of fringe philosophy and judiciary begging for freedom and independence to be themselves. We have the PM serenading the fringe with his silence and victims cries for justice lost in the chorus of the power hungry. We live in a nation where the citizen works for the government and democracy works against the people. We survive in a nation where the fissures and friction can devour each of us for no fault of us, where we would be the next victim in a grand conspiracy not of our doing. We can be a victim of violence or a riot that is not our doing nor our interest.
In the circumstances, what do we do? Can we let our hatred against a family win over what is good for the country and its people? Neither is the hatred of the Gandhi family so deserved nor is our love and belief in Modi so deserved. We need to swing the pendulum back. We need to bring objectivity in our assessment. We need to bring balance in our support for any political party, ideology and the people heading them. We need to punish those in power for being silent when the situation demands that they speak. We need to judge action and not intent; we need to judge performance not promise, we need to judge policy not ideology and demand peace than violence.
It is time we reclaim our life, our space, our freedom. It is time we show the middle finger to those in power for bringing us to this stage. It is time for us to speak for India and not for those who rule it. It is time to be the people we were than the citizens they want us to be.
It is time to be us.