OPINION | A Winking Speech by Rahul Gandhi!
Rahul Gandhi did not refrain from scoring political points, even on the India-China, Doklam dispute, where the whole world praised Modi government’s hard diplomacy, writes Shantanu Gupta.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi winks after his speech in the Lok Sabha on the 'no-confidence motion'. (LSTV grab via PTI)
Before Rahul Gandhi started off with his speech on the no-confidence motion, WhatsApp groups & Twitter trends were filled with ‘Rahul’s speech will bring earthquake’ jokes. After his speech, the same digital platforms were filled with his winking and ‘pappi-jhappi’ act.
One joke, which summarizes his speech and the hugging-winking theatrics around it, was: ‘Earthquake did not come, what came was laughter’. Even after spending more than a decade in Indian politics and having a disproportional advantage of being born in India’s most powerful family, the Gandhi scion is still struggling to make his mark in Indian politics. Being the president of India’s oldest political party, he does attract some eye balls, his speeches does get ears, but most of the content end up being part of funny memes rather than initiating any serious political discussion or setting any narrative.
Talking on the no-confidence motion, Rahul started in English, with a promise to switch to Hindu during his speech, after a prompt from the treasury benches. The speech sounded like an extension of his Karnataka elections campaign, with typical unsubstantiated charges on the government even on matters as serious as defense. He started with the rhetorical Rs 15 lakhs in every account jibe and trivialized Indian Army’s ‘Surgical Strikes’ with his ‘Jumla Strike’ phrase, which probably his research team has coined for him, for this important debate.
Then as usual he moved on to insult crores of informal street vendors by calling them ‘pakoda walas’ in a derogatory tone. Then he criticized GST, which finance ministers of all the states of India, including Congress’, have accepted unanimously. Then he tried to link Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah with certain businessmen, without quoting any substantial sources for his allegations. Rahul and the likes should learn from Dr Subramanium Swamy who does not stop at media jibes on the people he finds corrupt. If Dr Swamy makes an allegation, he diligently takes the person to the court and pursues the matter relentlessly, as he did with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case and both of them are now out on bail.
Rahul Gandhi did not refrain from scoring political points, even on the India-China, Doklam dispute, where the whole world praised Modi government’s hard diplomacy. Rahul went on to misquote a foreign state head to make an allegation on the defence minister for the Rafale deal. He stood exposed a couple of minutes later, when Nirmala Sitaraman provided the facts to the House. In fact, Rahul’s immature comments about the French president may create a diplomatic tension between the two nations in the coming days.
A strong advice from the Speaker and veteran member of the House should come in handy for the prince of the Gandhi dynasty in future. Sumitra Mahajan told Rahul in her usual grandmotherly soft gesture that yielding to a member, if you blame him or her by name, it will not make you a lesser human being.
She was pointing to the fact that Rahul Gandhi did not yield to Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman, when she wanted to give a quick reply on the unsubstantiated charges he made on a deal as important as Rafale. Good quality sound equipment of the Lok Sabha hall did not let us miss the constant loud and clear instructions Rahul was getting during his speech from Jyotiraditya Scindia, a prominent young face of Team Rahul, the probable Congress chief ministerial candidate for Madhya Pradesh and part of Congress’s ‘strong neta’ kid cadre.
I guess by the end of the speech, Rahul himself realized that the content of his speech will not impress many and so he went across to PM Modi’s seat and hugged him. As he started getting praises for this hug gesture on Twitter, he spoilt it a minute later with a wink to his colleague, telling the world that the hug to PM Modi was just a pre-planned idea and was executed well.
Pushed hard on the special status issue by YSR and Pawan Kalyan in the home state, TDP used the opportunity well to play their state politics. In fact, the most erudite Jayadev Galla of TDP did not shy away to blame Congress for the unjust bifurcation of AP & Telangana along with BJP. Congress who stealthily sneaked in for the no-confidence motion, using TDP, tried to provide one more stage to launch Rahul Gandhi from the benches of Parliament for the big fight of 2019.
But like the previous launches and re-launches of the Gandhi scion, this also came as a lukewarm and rhetorical performance. This speech will best be remembered as a ‘Winking Speech’.
Shantanu Gupta is author of Yogi Adityanath’s biography – The Monk Who Became Chief Minister. Twitter: @ShantanuG_
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