Why Can't Rahul Get it Right?
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi wrapped up his month-long tour of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on October 6. (FILE PHOTO: REUTERS)
When our boys in blue hit a six in a packed stadium with the eyes and hopes of a billion people hanging in the air, the whole nation applauds. There is never any doubt over what has been achieved and who clinched victory. However, it is a bizarre state of affairs where one, especially the Prime Minister of India, is questioned for thumping his chest when the army targets terrorists in Pakistan, hitting back at the terror campaign emanating from across the LoC.
In the aftermath of the Uri attack, the Opposition asked Prime Minister Modi, “Where is your 56-inch chest?” Now – after the surgical strikes they say, “Why are you thumping your 56-inch chest?” Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi even took it a step further, accusing the Prime Minister of ‘Khoon Ki Dalali’, of ‘trading in the blood of soldiers’, even as citizens and the world continue to applaud Modi for avenging the death of the 19 Uri jawans. Congress spokespersons must have been holding their heads when Rahul Gandhi made that statement, with the lawyer brigade of spokespersons trying to find yet another way to spin the remark and control the damage.
Why shouldn’t Prime Minister Modi take credit for the surgical strikes? The armed forces work under the Executive, it takes orders from the State to defend the nation and counter its enemies – external and domestic.
The armed forces need political will to carry out military operations, and Modi granted it. For years, India was considered soft on Pakistan, but PM Modi not only ordered the surgical strikes, he initiated multi-level planning to ensure international support and in-turn the diplomatic isolation of Pakistan. Modi deserves credit for the two-pronged attack.
The army did what it is trained to do while Prime Minister Modi pushed the government machinery so that Pakistan continues to feel the heat on the international stage and in the information war.
The government did the right thing by telling the nation the Uri martyrs were avenged. The message went loud and clear to every Indian citizen and soldier around the world that we are strong and capable of teaching a lesson to those who sponsor terror. This multi-level offensive against Pakistan is unprecedented, and there is no doubt that the nation is united behind the Prime Minister- far divorced from the narrative of insecure politicians in the Opposition.
The Congress is on the wrong side of the political fence, launching an offensive that will gain them no political capital or public favour. The party’s motor mouths Sanjay Nirupam and Digvijaya Singh initiated the attack but Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Khoon Ki Dalali’ remark clearly cemented the party’s stand. All support the party initially showed the Centre as well as the army has been negated by the outrage the Congress’ heir apparent has drawn.
The space for the Congress to pitch its achievements or revamp its image post the Lok Sabha debacle is becoming smaller and smaller. Since 2014, it has failed to counter the image of corruption and misgovernance, with the BJP expanding its footprint across states under the Modi-Shah combine. This time it had the perfect opportunity to side with the Centre and show a united front against Pakistan-sponsored terror.
However it has squandered that opportunity. The military and Modi government have shown a united front, and the Congress’ attempt to respect one while denigrate the other has failed to work in the current political climate. Not only has Rahul Gandhi become a joke in India, he has become a pawn of the Pakistan propaganda machine. The Congress VP has once again become the root of why the party continues to cede political ground even while in Opposition.
With the surgical strikes, the progressive stand on Triple Talaq and the Uniform Civil Code - Modi continues to solidify his position as a national leader. Rahul Gandhi meanwhile continues to fail to pitch himself as the national alternative to Modi as he is constantly in combat mode and clearly never calibrates his attacks with any political acumen. The narrative around the surgical strikes was a no-brainer, yet Rahul Gandhi stuck to his ways, once again paying the price for his party’s insecurity and looming fear of political insignificance.