Why the BJP attacks Rahul Gandhi now
A storm is brewing
Calm waters often hide turbulent undercurrents below. Publicly, the Bharatiya Janata Party claims to have pushed the dynastic Congress to the political margins. But privately party leaders feel that the Gandhi family poses the biggest threat to their unhindered political dominance. Even senior leaders are of the opinion that the Gandhi family-led Congress will bounce back once the Modi magic fades.
It is perhaps this that is prompting the BJP to try and demolish the image of the Gandhi family, going to the extent of terming it anti-national. Last week, the BJP suddenly started slamming Rahul Gandhi for maintaining secrecy over his foreign visits.
The attack belied the BJP's claim that Rahul poses no challenge to it politically and even acts like an asset for them. The BJP pulled out a 2017 circular asking members of parliament to inform the secretary-general about their private visits to foreign countries in advance. The circular was given to reporters and a spokesperson was deputed to raise the issue.
The MP, GVL Narasimha Rao asked, 'Why was it not revealed? Was he involved in some secret operation?' Rao said Rahul had travelled abroad 16 times in the last five years and most of these visits were kept secret. But given the timing of these questions -- they were raised on the day the Snoopgate scandal erupted -- there is speculation that this is just another ploy to deflect attention from the story of the day.
No shave November
The Congress troubleshooter, DK Shivakumar, who spent 52 days in Tihar Jail over a money laundering case, has quickly slipped back into the groove after returning to Bangalore. The party’s most influential Vokkaliga leader, who has a massive fan base among the youth, has kept his chin up, sporting a salt-and-pepper beard that he grew during his incarceration. The change in his look has been welcomed by party members, especially since it coincides with No-Shave November, a month when men sport facial hair as an expression of their freedom.
The past has a way of coming to haunt at the most inconvenient of times. The aggressive nationalism unleashed by the Narendra Modi government since 2014 is causing it considerable anxiety with the diplomatic visit by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The German embassy had requested that Merkel be allowed to remain seated during the national anthem of both countries at the ceremonial welcome. While the home ministry circular has a provision for making such an exception, protocol officials have had to work overtime to ensure that no controversy is created over this. They left nothing to chance and informed the media well in advance, to nip any chance of a controversy in the bud.
Even when the past does not come to haunt the present, it can, at times, be dragged into the present. This is what is happening in Karnataka. The talk in the educational circles in the state is now about ‘Tipu batches’ and ‘Non-Tipu batches’ of students passing out of schools. While the Congress encouraged children to learn about Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of Mysore, the BJP wants to drop all references to him in history books. With the chief minister, BS Yediyurappa, taking a stand against lessons about Tipu, it is quite possible that he will become history as far as history textbooks are concerned. If the BJP remains in power for few more years, it would mean that only a comeback by Congress or another party amenable to the former ruler of Mysore would bring Tipu back into the syllabi.
Fly close to the ground
The former Congress social media head, Divya Spandana, who created waves before the 2019 parliamentary election with her acerbic tweets on the prime minister had disappeared from the scene. Not only did she delete her Twitter account, she is also nowhere to be seen in Congress circles. The new chairman of the social media cell, Rohan Gupta, is a down-to-earth activist who is quietly trying to strengthen the party’s presence on Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook. Unlike Spandana, Gupta tweets mostly in Hindi and covers a wide range of subjects instead of focusing on the PM. He may lack the flourish and punch of his predecessor, but sources say he is adept at building teams and is working hard to expand the strength of volunteers in states.
Imagine having noodles with yellow dal, or a plateful of only yellow dal with no spoon to consume it. Some invitees to a special Diwali-eve luncheon hosted by the Union human resource development minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal, at his residence found themselves with such unusual combinations. Invitees who headed to the lunch tables early were lucky. But those who networked and chatted longer found much of the food gone. Around 300 persons may have turned up instead of the planned 150 to 200. Even senior officials had to improvise. One of them dropped a gulab jamun into a tea cup and used his fingers to eat it.
Still with Ramesh Pokhriyal. The HRD minister has now claimed that the oldest university in the world was located in Badrinath and called Badris University. He made this statement while delivering a lecture in Dehradun last week. While academics and historians are astounded and unaware of the existence of any such institution, the minister announced his plan to restore that university to its full glory. The past can also be imagined.