Rahul Gandhi’s Borrowed Hurrah?

Finally Rahul Gandhi’s earth shattering disclosures are out. Unfortunately one did not see any broken window panes or cracks in the mother earth nor the need for any emergency sirens to warn the public at large of an impending earthquake. He just repackaged information that was already in public domain to lay acquisitions on Mr Narendra Modi for having accepted money from two corporate houses without adding anything new. Instead of presenting a bullet proof case he just referred to the blank bullets already fired by others. Either he was not aware or he did not bother to realise that a petition in this regard had already been filed in the Supreme Court by Mr Prashant Bhushan and the honourable court had refused to accept the very documents that Rahul Gandhi produced with aplomb as credible evidence. The court asked the petitioner to come up with more solid or credible evidence since no investigation could be ordered based on documents submitted. This also speaks volumes about the poor intellect of Rahul Gandhi’s advisers within the party.

In all fairness what Rahul did manage to do was to spread the message to a greater audience to ignite more public interest. May be the logic was that if a lie or a half truth is repeated often, after a period of time it tends to be taken as the truth itself. But here too chances of any success are very remote since Rahul Gandhi’s credibility, both as an individual and as a leader, is very low. Therefore before long most of the public is likely to dismiss his acquisitions unless he can back up the same with more evidence. There is also no doubt that Congress party as a whole and Gandhi family in particular have a lot to worry about as far as the Augusta Westland Chopper scam is concerned. When one adds the National Herald case and Vadra land deals probe to the list, there is no doubt that the family and the party have some serious problems looming on the horizon. So could this Rahul outburst be a ploy to shift the focus and divert attention?

File Photo by Amit Kanwar

In last two decades Congress Party has tried to unearth and investigate some cases of corruption against BJP and its leaders but all its efforts have gone in vain. The Coffin scam (Kargil war), Tehelka scam and Purti scam (Nitin Gadkari) were all investigated and had to be closed without any conviction what so ever. Even today there is no case of corruption against any minister or senior leader from BJP that is under investigation apart from the Vyappam scam in Madhya Pradesh. That to any sane mind says a lot, given the unsavoury reputation of politicians and politics as a whole in the country. The same however cannot be said of Congress and most other political parties as many of their leaders are mired in the mire of corruption. The only difference is that while some are only ankle deep, others are neck deep into the same. As on date it may not be wrong to assume that Congress leaders (and its allies) certainly form bulk of those who are neck deep.

Rahul has demanded that Mr Modi must answer his questions. One wonders on what basis he is demanding the same. Today everyone in opposition wants a reply only from the Prime Minister on almost anything and everything. If Mr Modi pays heed to such demands he would hardly have time for the job that has been entrusted to him. Frankly one is surprised that Mr Modi took pot shots at Rahul Gandhi in his recent rally in Varanasi since that amounts to acknowledging Rahul Gandhi as a leader with some stature. It may have been more prudent for him to just ignore Rahul Gandhi as that amount to showing him his place. In such an eventuality he may respond with greater stupidities and more frivolous charges. That would certainly be counterproductive both for Congress and Rahul apart from sending a message to the public that Rahul Gandhi is not seen as worthy adversary to Mr Modi.

It does appear that Congress party is on a self destructive mode these days. It failed to hold a meaningful debate on the ‘demonetisation’ issue where they could have cornered the government in parliament with a well planned strategy since nearly all opposition parties would have joined them. It was an issue where the government had more problems than solutions. Instead Congress party along with others chose to disrupt the parliament for nearly the whole winter session. One could possibly speculate that Congress did not want to debate in the house since they were afraid that other opposition leaders, more experienced and articulate than Rahul, may hog the lime light which would expose the hollowness of their Party President in waiting. Congress, as is their want, would not have fielded any other more competent leader since the party would not like their own to upstage the Gandhi scion. So Congress is really in a catch 22 situation in the parliament since family interests are put above party interests. It is a pity that the party fails to introspect and see how it can re-establish itself into a more meaningful party and make people vote for it instead of asking people not to vote for BJP.

Sahara group is known for its benevolence when it comes to keeping politicians and those in authority happy. The group’s source of funds and its business activities are ‘as shady as a lady in a moustache’. The fact that the group has enjoyed political patronage for decades cannot be overlooked. The other corporate under the scanner, Aditya Birla Group, is one of the oldest business houses of the country that made a lot of hay when the licence raj was shining. It is well known that during that period corporate houses with strong political links flourished and ruled the roost. Even today for a large corporate to flourish in Indian environment, political goodwill is still an important factor. The question is can more credible evidence be unearthed to establish the culpability of those named in the papers recovered?

It is time the current government takes a well considered call on the status and disposal of the many scams and corruption cases that are under various stages of investigation for years now. The government will lose its credibility if it follows the UPA government strategy of using corruption cases to rein in the opposition and its leaders from time to time. The cases against Ms Mayawati (BSP) and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) are prime examples of the two leaders were kept on a tight leash by the UPA government. It will do the nation good and boost the credibility of the current government in its fight against corruption if investigations of some of the high profile cases, both political and corporate, are taken to their logical ends before the end of the year 2017. However if BJP government too wants to go the UPA way and use these cases as the proverbial ‘Damocles Sword” hanging on the heads of opposition leaders, then it will neither win the war against corruption nor public support.

As far as the charges made against Mr Narendra Modi are concerned, the matter is already in court and if substantive evidence is presented, there is no reason why the court will not take cognisance of the matter. The court has already said so in no uncertain terms. The onus is now on Rahul Gandhi and his party to bring forth new evidence instead of waiting for others to do the same. If the same is not forthcoming, then it may backfire on Rahul as well as Congress Party. Both stand to lose out on their relevance to Indian political environment. For someone who aspires to be leader of a united opposition and possibly a serious contender for the chair of the Prime Minister in a coalition if ever there is one in the near future, Mr Gandhi certainly has his work cut out. Unfortunately the Gandhi scion does not inspire any confidence in any one, barring perhaps his mother and some political sycophants within his party. One wonders when the Congress Party will see the writing on the wall that most others are seeing for a long time now.

Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.

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