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Has the Congress got its wish?

Rajkumar Singh

Rahul Gandhi’s imprisonment for two years in a defamation case and the cancellation of his Lok Sabha membership for this reason can be interpreted as a political disaster in the immediate term. The National President may be Mallikarjun Kharge, but Rahul is the natural and universally accepted leader of the Congress. His image appeared to improve with the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the Congress looked upbeat. The enthusiasm was so high that the Congress even started showing attitude to the regional parties engaged in the exercise of opposition unity. But Rahul, with the help of whose face this was done, has not only been disqualified from the membership of Parliament, but he is also in a position not to contest elections for eight years. In the absence of relief from the upper court, when Rahul will not be able to contest the elections, then the question of claiming the post of Prime Minister does not arise.

what a disaster, what an opportunity

The question is, will the Congress be able to convert this legal disaster into a political opportunity? It won’t be easy by any means. But Congress’ prospects will also depend on the outcome of the legal battle in the defamation case:

  • If the upper court stays the sentence and conviction of Rahul Gandhi, then his Lok Sabha membership will be restored. In that case, he would be free to contest the coming elections as well.
  • Even if the legal proceedings end in acquittal or commutation of sentence, the Congress will still get an opportunity to launch an aggressive political campaign against the Narendra Modi government and the BJP, projecting Rahul as a hero of democracy and people’s struggle.

There may be disagreement with what Rahul Gandhi said about the situation in the country abroad, but it cannot be denied that he is the opposition leader who has attacked the Modi government the most. It is also a fact that even though the central government continues to refuse to form the JPC on the basis of the Supreme Court setting up an inquiry committee, the facts that are coming to the fore in the Adani case and the way the ruling party is defending this controversial industrial house Yes, the shadow of doubt is only getting deeper. It should not be forgotten that in electoral politics, public perception is more important and effective than the truth.

  • It was the result of public perception that the government formed by Rajiv Gandhi with a huge majority was not only shaken in the Bofors whirlwind, but also collapsed in the elections.
  • Then there was an allegation of Rs 60 crore bribe in the Rs 1437 crore Bofors gun deal and the opposition with the help of Ottavio Quattrocchi, a businessman from Sonia Gandhi’s native country Italy, put the Prime Minister under suspicion.
  • Rajiv kept clarifying from the Parliament to the street that no brokerage was given in the Bofors deal with Sweden, but the allegations made by the opposition, including his own rebel minister VP Singh, created a public perception that there is something black in the lentils.
  • Raja nahi fakir hai, Bharat ki takdeer hai – VP Singh used to put his hand in the pocket of his kurta in public meetings and claim that he had the names of brokers, once the government is formed, he would make them public.
  • The VP Singh government was formed with the support of opposition unity and BJP-Left Front, and lasted for almost a year, but the names of the Bofors brokers were not known. Yes, in the last phase of life the same VP Singh was definitely heard praising Sonia Gandhi.
  • Meanwhile, governments of different parties came and went at the center, the tone of the investigative agencies in the courts also kept changing according to them, but even today, can anyone tell with certainty that who was given how much commission in Bofors?
  • Now let’s talk about the possibility of second outcome of the defamation case. Rahul Gandhi’s appeal against the conviction and sentence in the higher court has been clearly stated, but what if the expected relief is not received from there? A section within the Congress is always in the mood to bring forward Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra. The decision has to be taken by the Congress or to be precise, only by Sonia Gandhi, but doing so will eventually prove to be suicide for the party.
  • The stamp of nepotism on the Congress has hardly been removed by Rahul’s insistence on Congress President from outside the Gandhi family.
  • Symbolically, the message of internal democracy has also gone through the election.
  • By bringing Priyanka in place of Rahul, everything will be done but water will be turned.
  • In the form of Robert Vadra, the BJP will find a familiar weapon for effective attack, so different.

benefits of martyrdom

In such a situation, it would be politically and strategically wise for the Congress to project Rahul as a martyr for democracy and people’s struggle, without claiming leadership and becoming the pivot of opposition unity. Rahul may be more effective as a frontline aggressive campaigner against Modi and the BJP, barred from contesting elections and without claiming any office. He will definitely become the biggest leader of the opposition in this sequence. Eight years is not a very long time in politics. Once the credibility of Congress is restored, then sooner or later Rahul’s political prospects will also be made.

(The author is a senior journalist)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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