Lone voice: Rahul Gandhi questions China 'silence'
Silence need not be golden. The greyness of silence has been brought to light, once again, by Rahul Gandhi’s courageous, ceaseless — but solitary — questioning of Narendra Modi and his government over the alleged incursions by China into Indian territory. Political imperatives — Mr Gandhi, after all, is a prominent leader in the Opposition — inform this tirade, but only partially. What is heartening about Mr Gandhi’s relentless queries is his commitment to the principle of truth. Accountability, the kernel of democracy, is demolished by opacity. The government’s response to the crisis on the border has, not to put too fine a point on it, been far from transparent. After a prolonged silence, the prime minister rejected the possibility of intrusion; since then, all that his government has done is send out conflicting signals on the matter. The army, bureaucrats, and ministers have not ruled out the possibility of some kind of transgression by the Chinese. The disengagement talks — why engage with China if there is no encroachment? — are yet to yield substantial results. Shockingly, these developments continue without Mr Modi taking the nation into confidence. National security is not a monopoly of the government. Every Indian has a stake in the matter. The people have a right to be informed about the safety and the sovereignty of the nation, and one way of exercising this right, Mr Gandhi has shown, is by demanding answers from a rather inscrutable government. It is a pity that constituencies mandated to examine the government’s rhetoric on national security remain demonstrably quiet. None of Mr Gandhi’s peers in the Opposition seems to share his energy to hold Mr Modi accountable. Perhaps this has something to do with the perverse success that the Bharatiya Janata Party has had in depicting critics as anti-national elements. Mr Gandhi, thankfully, has soldiered on in the face of such opprobrium.
The wilting of the discourse of truth cannot be attributed to political machinations alone. India and the world are witnessing an engineered assault on the edifice of truth. Institutions meant to be a vanguard against falsity are being weakened. In India, to cite one example, the letter and spirit of the RTI Act have been brought under duress. The media, supposedly another guardian of truth, is now markedly disinclined to speak truth to power. There are, undoubtedly, perks of such complicity. But the victims, always, are the nation and the people.