In 2013, at a press conference by senior Congress leader Ajay Maken, Rahul Gandhi suddenly walked in and tore an ordinance which the then UPA government was bringing in to overturn an earlier judgment and retain Section 8 (40 of the Representation of People’s Act) by which MPs and MLAs could not be disqualified for three months even if convicted.
BJP says it’s karma which has come back to bite Rahul Gandhi as he now faces disqualification as an MP. But apart from the legal battle he will have to fight — and a long one at that — what’s the road ahead? What’s it that Rahul Gandhi’s core team plans to do to counter the BJP narrative which has called the decision ‘Satyamev Jayate’.
Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother Indira Gandhi had used her defeat to whip up a frenzy and sympathy for herself. His mother Sonia Gandhi had countered the Sword of Damocles when she lost her MP-ship under the office of profit law to resign and win back. But for Rahul Gandhi, the battle is tougher and longer. It means that if his conviction is not stayed, he cannot contest as per law for six years.
The cue has been given by Rahul Gandhi himself. In his tweet, he said: “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my god, non-violence the means to get it.”
Rahul Gandhi and the Congress will hence on make it a ‘yatra’ for truth and standing up to power. As Priyanka Vadra tweeted immediately after the judgment: “My brother has never been scared and never will be scared.”
In yet another image makeover for Rahul Gandhi, the Congress and his managers will now present him as someone who like Mahatma Gandhi, dared to stand up to power. The Congress is also bracing for the eventuality that he may be disqualified for long and cannot contest. However, it wants to project him as someone who will matter and be powerful even if he is not an MP.
In 2024, the Congress and Rahul Gandhi’s calling card is “Vote for Congress, Vote for Truth”. As a senior leader told News18.com: “It doesn’t matter if Rahul Gandhi is MP or not or cannot contest. His words, his fight will be used by us for all state polls and 2024 elections.”
But there will be no rethink on attacking PM Narendra Modi as its poll strategy. Sources say Rahul Gandhi will be even more aggressive on the agenda.
More than anything, it mounts pressure on Sonia Gandhi to contest in 2024 and for Priyanka Vadra too to fight from Wayanad in case Rahul Gandhi cannot.
The multiple cases against Indira Gandhi were used by her to make a comeback. Rahul Gandhi’s supporters hope the same works for him. But times have changed and so has the nature of politics.
A voice inside Parliament now matters but the Congress hopes the Gandhi name would be enough to make its presence felt for 2024 and beyond.
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