The United States, which is the fulcrum of Western civilisation, and Germany, which is the major player in the European world, came up with foolish assertions that they are watching the developments on Rahul Gandhi without realising that they are not helping his cause, but ending up creating a villain out of him.
Saying that one is watching the developments has got no meaning since every country watches the developments in other countries. That is why every important country has its representatives all across the world as envoys. For example, India must be watching keenly the way the US administration is treating its former President Donald Trump. India can also talk a lot about the failure of the US to resolve the racial issue. But when you assert that you are watching the development, it has a different connotation. It means the country either thinks itself to be a policeman or it suffers from a superiority complex. And this happens when there is a conflict between your understanding and practice of democracy. The US, the Western world and Europe have been in high praise of Indian democracy. The way people come out and vote, the way democratic institutions have become strong and trustworthy in India has been the topic of debate.
Why then discordant note on the issue of Rahul Gandhi? Is Rahul Gandhi for them bigger than Indian democracy? This creates doubt in the mind of an average Indian. If these countries value Indian democracy, they would know that the people of this country do not like Rahul Gandhi or his politics and they have voted for Narendra Modi as the symbol of hope. India does not have a dictatorship that the ruling establishment can treat it the way it wants. Even elected governments have restrictions. There is the press and the judiciary.
To see Rahul’s present situation, as an outcome of political rivalry by the ruling establishment, is a travesty of matured understanding. Rahul may cry foul but those who understand the Indian justice system would say for sure that this has been his own doing. First, you cannot give a communal slur for an entire community. Rahul had the option of clarifying that he did not mean that. He was defiant because of his hatred for the Modi surname and wanted punishment rather than saying sorry.
Even after the punishment, he had the option to go for appeal. Rather than enacting a drama over the situation, he should have opted for a legal battle. It appears he sensed a great opportunity in projecting himself as a victim. But he forgot that judicial orders cannot be assigned political motives. While some of his well-wishers in foreign lands may buy this, people in this country are far more mature. Every issue is debated at roadside tea stalls or chaupal in Indian villages.
Why did the US jump the gun? US Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel, at his maiden press conference, said: “Respect for rule of law & judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy. We’re watching Mr Gandhi’s case in the Indian court and we engage with the Indian government on a shared commitment to democratic values including freedom of expression. In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights including freedom of expression as a key to strengthening both our democracies engaging with the government of India.”
Two days later, Germany too, joins in. The German government said: “We have taken note of the verdict of the first instance against the Indian Opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate. To our knowledge, Rahul Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. The appeal will show whether the verdict stands and whether suspension has a basis. We expect standards of judicial independence and democratic principles to be applied.”
The prime question in everyone’s mind will be why the same hue and cry or such observations were not made when other legislators were disqualified in a similar fashion when they were convicted for an offence for two years. Rahul Gandhi had upheld the validity of this process of disqualification and tore the ordinance that the UPA government under Dr Manmohan Singh sought to bring, to nullify the provision enunciated by the Supreme Court.
The BJP has rightly slammed the Congress for seeking foreign intervention. The representatives of the Modi government have rightly objected to such statements by foreign countries and the fact that this government would not tolerate any interference from anyone in its internal affairs.
Despite pitfalls, the judicial process in the country has acquired immense respectability. What the US and Germany have demonstrated is their lack of understanding and appreciation of the functioning of Indian democracy. Rahul Gandhi cannot be given special status just because he belongs to a political family. Such statements would put a question mark on the intentions of these countries.
As far as the Congress is concerned, it should figure out why Rahul Gandhi should not be compared with Mir Zafar who invited foreign power, i.e. the British, to fight internal power struggle. The loss of Indians at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 led to the establishment of the British Empire in India. Rahul has given an opportunity to these foreign countries to poke India through their irresponsible statements.
The writer is the convener of the media relations department of the BJP and represents the party as a spokesperson on TV debates. He has authored the book ‘Narendra Modi: The Game Changer’. The views expressed are personal.
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