Asatyagrahis in the Government and the politics of innuendo and intimidation

What does the relentless attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family over the last eight years and more tell us? That the present dispensation is desperate and are afraid of both the family and the party

File photo of Prime Minister Modi with Home Minister Amit Shah
File photo of Prime Minister Modi with Home Minister Amit Shah

Sujata Anandan

It is both funny and tragic to see the current dispensation trying so desperately hard to intimidate the Nehru-Gandhis over the past six years without much success. For it is now very evident that if they exist the Congress breathes, if they go, the Congress dies and therefore the present dispensation’s desperation to finish off one to destroy the other.

The latest in this saga has been the allegation of misdemeanour against the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in the expectation that some of the dirt will stick and that at least the Gandhi siblings, who have been going hammer and tongs at the BJP regimes both at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh, will think twice before voicing their criticisms of the governments. But that has not happened.

Rahul Gandhi in his by now famous quips has come out with a new one-liner for Narendra Modi – asatyagrahi – bound to rile the bhakts and supporters who are unable to see the wood for the trees with regard to the incompetence, failures and of course, lies indulged in by the topmost people in the government.

The new single word asatyagrahi quip was in response to Modi's claim that his government had set up and launched Asia ‘s biggest solar power plant in Rewa in Madhya Pradesh when, in fact, there are at least three other solar power plants in different parts of India alone bigger than the Rewa plant, including one in Rajasthan billed as the biggest in the world, so obviously bigger than anything in Asia or India.

I quote the above facts only to underscore the point that the Congress ‘s comments on the tall claims have come coincidentally with the supposed investigation into the RGF and it made me wonder why neither the Nehru-Gandhis nor their party are quite cowed down by it. But I have a fair assumption.

I recalled a friend telling me that former union minister Arun Jaitley had told him a few years after the installation of the Modi government in power that they had been unable to find anything against the Gandhis to nail them down or jail them for even a day. Apparently, they combed multiple governments for every resource and could find no documents that would hold up on scrutiny in court or even out of it. So, they have been resorting to innuendo and intimidation and hoping that something will give.

From my sources in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh I gleaned that the targeting of Congress leader P Chidambaram was on the same lines but they were startled not only by the fact that Chidambaram did not break but also that the Congress closed ranks behind him and he came back more strongly against the government. Now there is a reluctant recognition that not everybody in the Congress is for sale and despite access to all the records at the government’s disposal – something that a RSS source admitted quite unabashedly – they were finding it very difficult to destroy the Congress party and its leaders.

But where the BJP and RSS are falling short, the gaps are being filled up by others who may not necessarily be saffron bigots but, pretending to be liberal and democratic, allow their personal grudges against both the Gandhis and the Congress to push the RSS agenda to destroy both entities. Among them are historians, writers, columnists or television commentators who, I notice, go particularly for Rahul Gandhi, safe in the comforting thought that there will be no retribution even if the Congress were to come to power again anytime in the future.

The same persons are unable to voice even a passing criticism of either Modi or the government despite their massive incompetence and the former's posturing that is so obviously on display. I am increasingly suspicious that, apart from personal grudges and feelings of slight, some of these critics are actually playing the game of the bigots, either out of fear or because they want to be fence sitters.

Younger and aggressive Congress spokespersons have already drawn eyeballs on TV channels by making their counterparts from the BJP look ridiculous and even foolish. Many BJP spokespersons are ridiculed and have become the butt of jokes among the non-bhakt population in the country. It is also evident in the manner in which the Congress party units in many states have kept their heads above water and not disintegrated in the face of the combined assault of power and money.

From the manner in which the government, its ideologues and even some so-called liberal-minded detractors find it necessary to relentlessly and continuously target the Nehru-Gandhis, I am beginning to think that they must see the family as a real political threat.

So expect more targeting of both the family and the party by not just the government but also by those with liberal faces but hidden agendas. After being unable to turn up a single shred of evidence against the Gandhis and many other Congress leaders they have targetted, including, by extension, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, I am betting on a lot of eggs they might need to rub into their faces sooner rather than later.

(The views expressed are the author’s own)

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Published: 13 Jul 2020, 10:27 AM