Rahul Gandhi-not the next PM?

B L Saraf
Rahul Gandhi will not be our next Prime Minister! Well, this is not what the post May, 2019 makeup of the Lok Sabha dictates. That scenario is far away. Nor is it prophesied by a keen pollster. The soldiers whom Rahul Gandhi (R G ) is supposed to marshal as a General of the Indian National Congress and who are expected to fight the poll battle for him are telling us so.
Salman Khurshid a senior Congress leader and a’ family’ trusted man has said that Congress cannot on its own form the next government in New Delhi. It will have to rely on other parties. One of his statements made in the beginning of the year has caused enough damage to the ‘ secular credentials ‘ of the Congress when he admitted that the party has drops of communal blood on its sleeves.
P Chidambaram the other Congress leader and a longest family loyalist, while speaking to a Tamil T V Chanel, said ” Congress has never officially said that its president Rahul Gandhi should be the prime minister of an opposition alliance formed next government. This is not our intention. Alliance partners’ will decide who will be the next prime minster.”
The opposition parties which came together in Bangluru have given a clear signal that Rahul Gandhi may not be acceptable to them as the leader of Mahaghatbhandan, should the numbers favor them to form the next government .
The most scathing statement has come from Ghulam Nabi Azad- a long trusted family loyalist. While speaking at an event in Lucknow to mark the 201st birth anniversary of the Aligarh Muslim University founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Azad said ” Hindu candidates no longer invite him to campaign for them as they fear losing votes. While as when he was youth leader he has been campaigning across the country from Andaman Nicobar to Lakshadweep for number of candidates belonging to Hindu community.”
Some may read the statement as a ‘moralistic anguish of a confirmed secularist.’ But it can go other way also. This statement has an inbuilt potential of being read more as an indictment of RG than disapproval of BJP’s policies. It is the rejection of RG’s new found-opportunistic-love for ‘ Shiva” and the “Genue”, paraded to’ influence Hindu voters ‘, in a bid to wean away them from the BJP. It is Azad’s vote of no-confidence in R G. R G has every right to wear his new found love for the Hindu Gods on the sleeves. But it doesn’t go well with his followers like Azad and others. How will this development play out for RG and the Congress, till May 2019 and beyond, is any body’s guess?
These statements of ‘ family loyalists ‘ coming as they do in the backdrop of position taken by the opposition parties do not bode well for Rahul . It is an irony of sorts that the senior Congress leaders have said so at a time when some opinion polls show a marginal increase in Rahul’s acceptability as the next PM.
It is a travesty that Azad’s statement comes at a time when we are celebrating J&K ‘s accessopm with India, based on the principles which Azad has been affirming while speaking for India at the international platforms. Coming from a person who has cut his political teeth in fairly emancipated political atmosphere in the mainland India and holds the position of the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha it is indeed a sad commentary. The statement may cause some damage to the Congress but it will inflict a serious injury to the “Idea Of India.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad has fair credentials as a secular person. His stint as the Chief Minister of the State has demonstrated it. In fact Azad had to pay for his secular faith when his coalition partner-the PDP- pulled the rug from under his feet when he allotted land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for the facilitation of annual Yatra.
This is an election time. So we can’t be sure whether it is noise or a voice? If it is voice then certainly there is need for serious examination as to what has gone wrong that men brought up in dynastic culture of a grand old party like INC have come to make such revelations. Azad’s statement has a beyond border implication. There must be a sense of glee in our, not so friendly, western neighbour. They will surely read it in favour of two-nation theory, espoused by them so fondly.
There, however, is no reason for PM Narendra Modi and the BJP to feel elated. They have to stand on their own legs and be prepared to contend with very serious challenges the country faces at the time. There is rise in social tension with sense of estrangement among Dalits and a section of backwards, not to speak of minorities. Missing jobs will add to the woes of PM Modi.
Politicians must stop pretending. The state power is on the verge of collapse. If any proof is required to hold so, the latest ugly scene created by the CBI bosses, within the organization, should be enough. If it can happen to an agency working under direct control of the PMO one shudders to think what could be the fate of other state institutions. The gone by decade and a half has revealed that the political authority is running empty and is unable to meet the emerging challenges. That is why we hear politicians raising emotive (non) issues and sheer falsehood to hoodwink the people.
Undoubtedly, the opposition has a duty to question the government on all issues that concern them. At the same time there is a need to appreciate the good work done by the Government. To be always complaining and in mourning is a sign of despondency which affects the national mood. It is unfortunate that in the country we have developed a political culture which ensures that any meaning full job done by the Government is rundown or distorted by the opposition. We take pleasure in celebrating failures and mourn the success of the Government. Today it is done by party a which is in opposition and tomorrow it will be done by Party B (in power today ) that will be in the opposition. This tradition must be discarded that only function of the opposition is to prevent Government from governing and then try to grab power only to confront new opposition bent to do the same which earlier one did.
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)