Last week, there were yowls from the media demanding Rahul Gandhi’s resignation.
Odd, considering they never demanded the resignation of Union ministers who garlanded and rewarded lynch mobs, or ever even whispered that maybe, perhaps, BJP party president Amit Shah should think about resigning after the BJP lost three states in the Hindi heartland, if it so pleased his Lordship?
Not odd, however, keeping in mind that most journalists are terrified to say a kind word about Rahul Gandhi in public, in case their RSS-BJP handlers shout ‘Cut! Cut!’ because it wasn’t in the script they had given them, clearly outlining their roles. They are meant to act like devoted lap dogs towards the Emperor in Weird Clothes, and starving, snarling Rottweilers towards Rahul Gandhi.
Every time they savagely attack him, they get pats, tummy tickles, and treats. The same goes for some of India’s allegedly liberal ‘intellectuals’ who write pompous articles moaning about dark days in the nation but trash Rahul Gandhi and the INC relentlessly.
Extremely strange behaviour from people who really ought to be clever enough to realise that the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections was a do or die battle to save India from becoming a rabid Hindu Rashtra. Incidentally, BJP supporters are talking wistfully about Sati in the corridors of WhatsApp university, and trashing reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy as a ‘traitor’ and ‘British stooge’ these days. So, I repeat, perhaps our intellectuals are not quite intelligent enough to grasp the enormity of the problem?
Anyway, I thought the media banshees were being unfair because, over the last few years, it was Rahul Gandhi alone who took the BJP head on. His leadership style was inspiring and energised, and he was deliciously witty too. He even did the craven media’s job by asking the government questions that none of them dared to.
While the media simpered, discussed mangoes, wallets, cameras, and sang ‘These are a few of my favourite things’ along with the Emperor in Weird Clothes, Gandhi asked questions about the terribly shady Rafale deal and other crucial issues. His ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ war cry was echoed by several Opposition party leaders in their rallies. If there was one flaw, it was this: perhaps he was too decent?
Many of us believe that MK Gandhi too would have faced defeat in the current atmosphere of hatred that has polluted our country. And considering that a Godse fan and alleged terrorist (out on bail) has won the elections on a BJP ticket, well then, what’s left to say?
But honestly, I don’t see what difference a resignation will make to the fortunes of the Congress party, apart from perception issues. Oh, and of course, the RSS-BJP will be very, very happy indeed—this was their game plan, after all. Do you really believe that all those hypocrites who vote for the Thackerays, Rajes, Mahajans, Mundes, Pawars, etc, because they swear they despise dynastic rule in the INC will start voting for the party if there is no Gandhi at the top?
Rahul Gandhi led from the front, and I hope he would continue to do so. After the 2014 debacle, he proved that he wasn’t a quitter, and that his chest is far wider than 56 inches. I admire his resilience and his determination to fight an adversary that has far more money than perhaps all the Opposition parties put together, manages the media, and controls all of India’s institutions, including a very friendly Chief Election Commissioner who obediently looks the other way when ordered, from what we have seen. If I had a friend like him, I’m sure I would win the Indian Idol even though I can’t sing.
However, I cannot deny that the post of party president is boring, compared to the challenging new role Gandhi outlined for himself at the recent CWC meeting: building the party organisation at the grassroots level with dedicated cadres, etc.
Since we’re back at the drawing board, here is where my advice kicks in: Do not bother to woo Hindutva supporters—they are not your vote bank and never will be (besides, the RSS-BJP does bigotry best). Say the word secular out loud and say it often—do not let the BJP wrong foot you into soft Hindutva. And please realise that citizens do notice when you don’t wish them on Eid or Christmas.
I have never been a Mamata Banerjee fan, but she won my heart when she defiantly thundered that she would go to 1000 Iftaars, so there! I appeal to Gandhi to plant the seeds of secularism so deep that the next time a fascist comes along astride on a white cow, it won’t be uprooted so easily.
So, here’s an idea from the media if the post of party president is vacant: choose a leader who has the cunning to manipulate political forces in key constituencies. To put it more clearly, a person with a criminal mind like You Know Who. Hey, don’t worry, the media loves criminals! Haven’t you heard the praise news anchors from India Today and Times Now heap on You Know Who?
Stop brooding over your loss, INC, and start working on the next elections. I agree with Aaron Nedumparambill who said (in The Kochi Post) that you should go on padayatras frequently. They will keep you and your party fit enough to run for the next round of elections.
You should also start doing your homework on EVMs since the Supreme Court doesn’t give two hoots about reassuring wary voters about the integrity of the electoral process. Twitter-user Farhan Siddiqui has a suggestion: he says parties must invest time and money to build an army of IT professionals who can detect and prevent manipulation, and underlines the fact that it is important to find out the stage at which rigging was done. Follow his advice, Or else, you’re doomed to play the noble loser again and again. Chances are, your voters may eventually run out of hankies and patience.
A final word: Hold on tight to the states you have and do your best. Embrace federalism with open arms and set the ball rolling on NYAY, the star of the INC manifesto. Finally, do remind your Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh that cows don’t vote, we do!
(Rupa Gulab is a Mumbai-based freelance writer and columnist, and the author of Girl Alone and Chip of the Old Blockhead)