First they laughed at him… and then ate crow
The Congress on Wednesday reminded the BJP that the turn of events over the past few years have vindicated Rahul Gandhi’s position on almost every issue of national concern, amidst a fierce attack on the Opposition leader for relentlessly questioning the Narendra Modi government over the Chinese intrusions.
The Congress posted a video explaining how the top BJP leadership had ridiculed Rahul for his views on demonetisation, the flawed goods and services tax, the coronavirus pandemic, the sagging economy and now China.
Claiming that the eventual outcome had proved that Rahul had been correct in his assessment of all these issues, the Congress argued in the video that the government could have been better off today had it paid heed to his advice instead of attacking or ridiculing him.
Hoping that a dispassionate approach would lead to a reappraisal of Rahul’s political persona sooner than later, a young aide told The Telegraph: “Our leader is a victim of false propaganda. The BJP blackened the picture as part of a sinister design, projecting him as a non-serious politician who is intellectually unsound. That was a farce and the events over the past few years bear that out. If there is a fair investigation, Rahul will be proved right on the Rafale scam as well.”
Rahul resigned as Congress president after the defeat in the 2019 parliamentary election as there had been misgivings in his own party about his strident attacks on Modi. Rahul however, had refused to alter his approach.
The propaganda about his understanding of issues now appears to have injured his pride. Many spied a tone of lament for being portrayed wrongly when he tweeted on Wednesday: “Small & medium enterprises stand destroyed. Large companies are under severe stress. Banks are in distress. I stated months ago that an economic tsunami was coming and was ridiculed by BJP and the media for warning the country about the truth.”
It is true that Rahul’s early warnings about Covid-19 and the accompanying economic destruction had evoked ridicule from BJP leaders and a large section of the media. He had started warning the government in early February but the administration kept contemptuously rejecting the possibility of a crisis till late March. Even senior ministers failed to anticipate that the pandemic could trigger such economic ruin. When Rahul spoke to economists and experts to explore various aspects of the unfolding crisis, the BJP described his efforts as childish.
This battle of wits had played out during the November 2016 demonetisation as well. While Rahul had picked the brains of several experts and declared the decision as disastrous, Modi had led the BJP in selling it as a masterstroke that would usher in a golden era. Modi quietly disconnected himself from this discourse as the demonetisation proved ruinous for the country but the perceptions didn’t change. Modi remained a smart politician and Rahul a greenhorn.
The same script was played out on the GST, which created enormous problems for small businesses, as predicted by Rahul, while the government had to reframe rules countless times.
On China as well, Modi’s assertion that nobody had entered Indian territory proved problematic both strategically and politically while Rahul kept insisting that the government should take the nation into confidence on the factual position.
Now, the massive escalation in border tensions, the massacre of Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley and aggressive Chinese incursions have shown the Prime Minister in poor light but it is Rahul who has been facing attacks from both the BJP and the Opposition parties. Sharad Pawar, the chief of Congress ally NCP in Maharashtra, as well as other Opposition leaders such as the BSP’s Mayawati have openly criticised Rahul while other parties have sent out similar messages with their silence.
The video that the Congress put out on Wednesday has a voiceover saying: “Had the BJP spent even a fraction of time and energy on solving critical problems instead of attacking Rahul, the country would have been in a better shape. Had they shed their arrogance to pay heed to the constructive suggestions of Rahul Gandhi, problems wouldn’t have overgrown.”
The government tried to brush under the carpet the reality of the economic decline and rising unemployment and now the monster has acquired dreadful proportions, the Congress said.
Asked about the BJP’s fresh attack on Rahul on Wednesday for asking questions on China, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “These are vulgar allegations. Recall how Modi used to ask questions when he was in the Opposition. The BJP’s double standard is known to all. Asking questions about Chinese intrusions makes us anti-national? The government should answer questions on the basis of facts instead of attacking and maligning the questioner. Answer, don’t say why questions are asked.”