Rahul Gandhi came to the Prime Minister’s rescue last week in a most unexpected way. He did this when with the recklessness of an irresponsible schoolboy he made charges against Narendra Modi that are very grave if true. The Prime Minister was “terrified” of him, he said, because he had proof of him being personally corrupt. “Read my lips” he added mysteriously, but since he said nothing at all after this, there was nothing to read.
Now the truth is that ever since the Prime Minister rendered most Indians cashless and distressed, he has lost public support in a way that has not happened before in the past two-and-a-half years. People support the idea of ‘black money’ being seized from the rich and powerful but cannot understand why a Prime Minister, famed for his administrative skills, was not better prepared to handle the fallout of his brutal move. There is no question that Modi’s personal image has been tarnished. But after Rahul Gandhi came forth with his charges, public opinion as gauged by your columnist from social media and conversations with queuing cashless people, has changed. The anger that has built up in the past five weeks seems to have dissipated.
If, however, evidence exists that Modi disrupted the Indian economy for personal gain, as Rahul is implying, then the President is obliged to dismiss the government. But when Rahul led a delegation of Opposition leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan, this was not what he asked the President to do. Why not? Things got more confusing when he met the Prime Minister, but instead of supplying proof of his ‘corruption’, spoke to him about the problems of farmers. Why would a ‘personally corrupt’ Prime Minister be concerned about the woes of farmers? Why should this Prime Minister be prime minister at all?
If Rahul’s charges turn out to be as false as those he made three years ago about the Mayawati government killing 70 people in the villages of Bhatta-Parsaul, it is time for the Congress party to consider looking for another leader. It is true that our oldest political party has been a family firm so long that the only alternative they can see to Rahul is his sister, but if Rahul has lied once more about a matter of national importance, then does an alternative not become necessary?
Rahul’s doting Mummyji continues to believe that her son will one day lead India. In her first television interview in 10 years, Sonia Gandhi recently reminded Rajdeep Sardesai that there was once a time when Indira Gandhi was ridiculed by senior Congress leaders. In saying this she appeared to be saying that her son maybe ridiculed today as a goof but that he would one day prove that he is a real leader. She also defended dynastic succession on the grounds that it was normal in every walk of life for parents to bring into their line of work at least one of their progeny. She mentioned professors and doctors to make this case but without noticing that these are professions, and that those who enter public life are meant to do so from a desire for public service. This quality does not usually come down in the genes and does not rub off from close association either.
It is India’s tragedy that dynastic democracy is so much the norm that Tamil Nadu today faces the possibility of having its late chief minister replaced by her companion Sasikala, despite her having no political or administrative qualifications. That transitions like this cause irreparable damage can be seen from states as vast and diverse as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar having become private estates. And from the sad reality that nearly every Indian political party today has become a private limited company. The role model was the Congress party, which is today so replete with the mediocre heirs of mediocre politicians that it is difficult to imagine how this was the same party that once led the movement to free us from our colonial masters. It is a party that has fallen on such bad times that there is nobody in it who would dare tell Rahul Gandhi that with his irresponsible charges he has harmed himself more than he has the Prime Minister.
Now that the charges have been made, it would be wise for him to follow Mayawati’s advice and make public the proof he has of Modi’s alleged personal gain from a move so harsh that it has caused nationwide distress. If the charges are true, they are too serious to be ignored. If, on the other hand, Rahul is unable to come up with the proof that he claims he has, then it is time for him to consider an alternative career in which it is easier to get away with lies.