Ramachandra Guha is surprisingly candid about Rahul Gandhi and his inability to lead the Congress Party in the 2024 general election to take on Modi. But instead of engaging in self-introspection, dynasty loyalists like Rajmohan Gandhi come to the defense of the indefensible Rahul.
Both are, however, on the same page when it comes to diatribe against Hindutva and Modi but while Ram provides a no-nonsense assessment, Raj showers encomium on Rahul.
Showing the mirror
Ram questions can Rahul “who so lamentably failed to take on Narendra Modi twice in succession succeed on his third try?’” when in a recent poll 66% nominated Modi and a meager 8% Rahul. Ram is spot on to note that Rahul has not demonstrated ability to lead a government or a corporate entity or even running a small business.
For Ram, Rahul can at the most be considered “a well-intentioned dilettante”. He ascribes the 2014 and 2019 debacle to Rahul’s lack of command over Hindi but does not tell us why would Congress win two terms under Sonia’s Presidentship prior to 2014 given that her Hindi is worse than Rahul’s. Ram considers that Rahul’s charge of stifling opposition, Chinese incursion or questioning Modi’s integrity was a blunder because Modi-backers could easily counter it by citing 1975 emergency, 1962 China war defeat, and the Bofors scandal.
Ram identifies five drawbacks which make Rahul unsuitable for Prime Ministership. These are: lack of political intelligence, Hindi difficulty, no administrative experience, no stamina and tenacity and dynastic- not self-made- background. Anyone endowed with commonsense would concur. Ram suggests two solutions: chose a non-dynasty leader to head the Congress and encourage homecoming of leaders- YSR, Pawar and Mamata- who deserted the party.
Ram castigates dynasty sycophants. “The sycophants surrounding Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi always tell us that the party will not survive unless Sonia or one of her children were to lead it’’. Ram considers that a non-dynasty leader would be more effective than Rahul. Ram is astonishingly courageous in writing “The bitter truth that all opponents of the current regime must face is that presenting Rahul Gandhi as a Prime Minister-in-waiting only plays into the hands of Narendra Modi and the BJP’’. Ram’s assessment is correct but he underestimates the power of sycophants.
Diatribe on Hindutva and Modi
How can Ram write anything without spewing venom on Hindutva and Modi? His article begins with ‘’ those who oppose Hindutva seek to recover the founding principles of the freedom struggle, such as religious and linguistic pluralism, gender and caste equality, a critical attitude to state power, and an open-ness to other cultures and civilizations: all principles which Hindutva threatens to abandon or overthrow’’. He ends with these words “for in six years as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has done grievous damage to India. He and his government have undermined our economy, divided our society, and degraded India in the eyes of the world”.
Interestingly, Ram does not provide evidence to support the above claims as he did for his claims about Rahul. Has Ram not read ancient Indian history? Open door policy towards cultures and civilizations existed millennium before freedom struggle. If it was not so, a rebel such as Buddha would not have been given a dais in Varanasi way back in 500 BCE. Hindus never beheaded those with dissenting views. It is cultural and civilizational idiosyncrasy of the Middle East, Roman and Marxist lands. The oldest Mosque in India, (which is as old as the one in Mecca) or the oldest Church were constructed when Hindu Kings ruled. Parsees escaping religious persecution sought and were provided refuge by a Hindu King and so were the Jewish people. Does Ram know that the Prophets family was provided asylum by Raja Dahir– a Hindu King of Sindh? Consequently, the contention that it was freedom struggle that opened India to cultures, is absolute hogwash. It’s a worry that a historian pushes such a claim.
Furthermore, how has Modi regime hampered gender and caste equality? Isn’t empowering Muslim women by abolishing triple talaq a progressive step? Or does Ram consider that not empowering Muslim women as the Congress did – purely guided by electoral considerations- constitutes gender equality?Again, with an OBC as the Prime Minister and a Dalit as President how does caste equality gets hampered? Or does the drama of a Janevu Dhari Brahmin during election equals caste equality in Ram’s lexicon?
Ram projects the caste issue as though before Modi’s arrival in 2014 everything was hunky-dory. It is true that as per the National Crime Bureau Records there is some increase in incidence of crimes against scheduled caste as a proportion to their population- from 19.57 (2013), 20.30 (2015) to 21.30 (2018). It would be alarmist, however, to claim that caste issues popped up after Modi ascension to power.
Could Ram tell us how has Modi negated religious or linguistic pluralism? Or does Ram mean that religious pluralism means minority appeasement? Or does he think that religious pluralism is achieved only by holding an Iftar party in Rashtrapati Bhavan or a beef festival at the JNU?
Ram provides no evidence whatsoever to support his assertion that Modi has done “grievous damage”. It appears to be a figment of his Marxist imagination in all probability. Furthermore, Modi has not undermined economy, it is the Chinese virus that has damaged the economy of every country including that of Australia.
We know that Rajmohan Gandhi belongs to the dynasty “sycophants” tribe as Ram describes it. True to his swadharma, instead of providing an objective analysis of Rahul, Raj performs the Abhishekam on Rahul. From beginning till end his article is full of praise for Rahul and similar to Ram minces no words in his pathological hatred towards Hindutva and Modi.
He notes, battle against Hindutva is not just an electoral but a daily battle. He paints Modi regime with a broad-brush. A few examples would suffice. He asserts that pillar of democracy is being systematically hacked under Modi. He notes “we see the Supreme Court deferring critical petitions that involve the lives and rights of millions”. But doesn’t Rajmohan, know that the judiciary works independently of the executive. If the Supreme Court is delaying cases then how can Modi or Hindutva be responsible? Has Modi subjugated the judiciary by sidelining senior judges to appoint, for example, A. N. Ray as the dynasty did during emergency? Furthermore, if Parliament is unwilling or unable to debate critical issues then he should question Rahul– a parliamentarian – and his colleagues why they failed in their duty as the opposition to hold Modi to account. In labelling a charge that “policemen chasing the kin but not the killers of a murdered person” is Rajmohan referring to the policemen of Congress government in Maharashtra in the recent Sushant Singh murder case?
He notes 2024 will be a difficult battle politically because “where will the opposition parties find the money?”. He admits thereby that for the Congress Party election was only a “money game” which explains the financial scandals of the UPA regime. No wonder the party crossed all limits of propriety by signing agreement with the Chinese Communist Party. Even the Supreme Court found it strange.
Rajmohan applauds the Election Commission for holding free and fair elections so far, thereby admitting that the drubbing Congress Party got in two successive elections was “fair”. But since free and fair elections have worked to Modi’s advantage why would Modi meddle with the Election Commission?
Rajmohan asserts that Rahul is fighting the battle month by month heroically. He notes “anyone working for liberty, equality and fraternity in India is my ally today’’. Why did Rajmohan not undertake indefinite fast as his grandfather would have when dynasty stripped Indian’s of liberty during emergency or when Rahul tore off cabinet decision? Did he question why India had the ignominy of topping the world in open defecation when dynasty ruled? Why rural poor women had to defecate in the open? Why were the poor deprived of basic financial services or primary health care? Addressing these abominable legacy issues has been Modi’s grand achievements in less than 6 years. Does Rajmohan mean “fraternity” sharing the loot in 2G, August Westland and several other scams?
Ram and Raj both are on the same page when it comes to philippic against Modi and Hindutva but while Ram provides an objective assessment of Rahul, Rajmohan, performs Rahul’s abhishekam!
(The author is Professor in an Australian University. Views personal)