Rahul Gandhi is convicted by Chief Judicial Magistrate of Surat on the charges of criminal defamation of a community. He stands to lose his Lok Sabha membership and associated perks as on now as legal and political battle moves ahead.
Let us be very clear about it. So many of politicians have been punished under this law and many of them have lost membership of house in the past and this included ruling party members as well. This law was approved by SC only and MM govt attempts to overrule it were thwarted by Rahul Gandhi only in 2013 when he tore the ordinance by the govt in famous Press Club of India press conference. A ruling party MP tore the ordinance by his own govt in what looked like “PM in waiting on the verge of bringing era of moral politics in India”. No body missed projection of his political power in that press conference even above PM. A sad spectacle indeed for the country but who bothered at that time.
Let us visualise how the Congress is going to take it in coming days. Rahul Gandhi will be showing a brave face. He will talk of Adani, murder of democracy, autocracy and dictatorship in the country. Modi will be blamed for all the ills of institutions.
Public and politicians both know that at the time of elections and otherwise, politician do get involved in mudslinging on each other. In fact, at certain political levels, mudslinging is part of macho image, a show of aggression or posturing. It was more at earlier times because it told your adversaries not to dare, ultimately reflecting in polling booth behaviour when booth capturing was rampant. EVM changed that aspect but aggression has to be shown because it shows the leaders in positive image. Public liked it, appreciated it and voted for aggression. Regional parties like Samajwadi or RJD and so many in that category mastered this art. Congress and BJP were far behind. This aggressive posturing was reflective of caste and combination base of party also. Muslim- Yadav base of Samajwadi party or RJD reflected the aggressive posturing though no generalisation can be drawn. TMC and so many others also followed the same route.
Congress was never into aggressive public posturing except during the time of Sanjay Gandhi, though individual candidates with aggressive social base did not shy away from aggressive conduct. As the political parties move into ruling position, they try to be rational, submissive and generally rule adherent at national level, though at local level, party members do take advantage of their ruling positions or clout. What Rahul Gandhi was trying to do with this aggressive posturing? He has been trying to be that aggressive face of opposition who can challenge the leadership of Modi all over the county. In that show of aggression, he forgot to remember that he is going off track with his remarks. Problem is that he did it second time. First time he had to apologise to SC of India on the issue of slogan- Chowkidar Chore Hein. It is on record. So, he is a repeat offender and Chief Judicial Magistrate in Surat mentioned this point.
People have problem with their image and some times that image clashes with real politic. Rahul Gandhi apologised to SC but he would have found very difficult to apologise to BJP or PM. Kejriwal or his political social base has no such problem and can make any allegation against any one or apologise to anyone. Should Rahul Gandhi, do it? Will his political base accept it? Legacy brings so many advantages and disadvantages too. Here it is the disadvantage. Modesty was never his strong point and sense of entitlement and its projection has been rampant starting from his early political career. Now, agitations etc may be launched but what will be end result? Interesting part is that any agitation by Congress may show off as very successful because it will be supported by so many of regional parties and their aggressive cadres on street and it will look like that Congress and Rahul Gandhi has so much of support on ground thus giving them wrong impression about their own strength. The same regional party cadres will keep away from Congress when they go to vote. More over BJP has already eroded that base with its social engineering through more than hundreds of schemes at grass root level. In certain cases, this social engineering has eroded the base of regional parties to the extent that only super structure is seen specially in BJP ruled states like BJP and MP. There is further disadvantage, silent majority will keep away while watching the agitations. They will neither support nor go against any agitation but will expect police to do their job so that they can carry on with their life without any obstruction, what so ever. What do they expect from Rahul? Even though he does not inspire any confidence in them about his leadership. They want him to fight a legal battle if he has been wronged. Most of them feel that Rahul could have been very careful about selection of words while doing an aggressive posturing. While Rahul may be trying to garner some sympathy, they are not impressed with his ignorance and poor selection of words. Repeat offenders are not to be encouraged though some of them would not mind him being Lok Sabha member but they will not consider him as suitable PM candidate.
Agitational approach on street will backfire on Rahul Gandhi or Congress though it can give a false impression about his support, same as Bharat Jodo Yatra has done but what happened in Gujrat elections or other bye elections during the same time, should make him wise. Nobody is going to believe that he has been convicted because of Adani issue. The silent majority, most of them in the middle class appreciate the contribution of industries and industrialists in the development of country. Even Congress govt in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have given contract to Adani. Rahul Gandhi does not mention it because of political expediency but majority of Indians understand that game. It brings neither laurels nor votes to Rahul Gandhi. Persistence on these lines prove his foolhardiness and not perseverance as he wrongly perceives.
Social and political base of Rahul and Congress will further shrink if they continue with agitational approach while BJP focuses on Hindutva, governance and nationalism to bring laurels for India. It’s time for Congress and Rahul to bring positivity in their approach before they lose their relevance, finally.