Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Rahul Gandhi spreading rumour is a new political tool?

Rahul Gandhi appears sincere and an apolitical politician is his USP. The fact that he belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has made his life so much easier. The heat or dust, and the hardships and the struggle that comes with it, carves out a leader in a mortal being. This is never happened to Rahul; need not happen to him. So, he has to proactively strategise, go and play with heat and dust in a way to rouse sentiments in the electorate that would transform into votes for the Congress party.

The recent appointment with the heat and dust in Greater Noida where he landed up in a bike (not a super bike) with some high profile supporters to support the agitating farmers, a hot day out. He courted arrest but was not arrested. He thought he was at the cusp of causing an agrarian uprising against the state with the help of some opportunist local politicians. That was not to happen. But he did manage to hassle Mayawati, the Dalit-woman chief minister of Uttar Pradesh who runs the state with an iron fist. Having said that, it is also true that no body takes 40 years old ‘Amul baby’ or ‘baba,’ as he referred to, seriously. And they have reasons for that. Youth congress candidates vouched and campaigned for by Rahul did not do well in the just concluded assembly elections of various states. The Congress party would soon come out with an innovative explanation of how Rahul is not responsible for this electoral debacle.

I write this blog for a different reason, though. The reason is not to discuss: the fading magic of Rahul Gandhi, or Rahul's magic was never there, is just a media creation or that he belonging to the dynasty cannot be the only reason for him to do well politically.

I write the blog to discuss spreading rumour, and that too of a malicious nature, as a political tool now employed by Rahul as the events of the last few days suggest.

Hitler used lies, deception and conspiracy theories effectively in World War II to quell morale of the Allies forces. In fact he had a deputed person by the name Joseph Goebbels who had a single-minded agenda of spreading rumours and lies. I know it is an unfair comparison but I see hints of it in the recent events.

Rahul has alleged that in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, while trying to stop or control the agitating farmers with legitimate demand, the state government resorted to brute force. So far fine. But then he went on to say: “people are being murdered, (and he sighted of pile of ash, there were 74 mounds with bodies inside which could mean that farmers were brunt after being murdered or murdered by burning them alive), and women were raped, people thrashed and houses burnt.” As a result many of the agitating farmers are missing.

Interestingly, not one person in the two villages stepped forward to back the claim. The local authorities, villagers and just about everyone who is at the ground has not supported Rahul’s claim of a potential genocide carried out by the local law enforcement authorities. He might have been misinformed or must have misread the situation. And such confusion happens when you meet heat and dust of the political life like out on a date. The dynamics of people’s politics is revealed only when you stay with them and not when you visit them to make a political statement using their miseries as your rallying point.

But it is difficult for Congress to confess that he is wrong. Rahul can never be wrong. They will perhaps indulge in more lies to support this lie. Congress spokespersons, especially Manish Tewari, defends the dynasty with great imaginative zeal. And he wants a CBI enquiry to fix the lie as unmitigated truth. He insists on CBI doing the probe because has no trust on the state machinery under Mayawati. But by same logic, CBI cannot be trusted either given that this premiere investigative agency has a long history of serving its political masters who run the central government. The one example that comes to my mind is of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, close to Gandhi family, in Bofors guns kickback matter CBI worked overtime to withdraw all the charges against him.

The party spokespersons have a very difficult task to deal with journalists, and in the case of Congress party, defend the dynasty on issues that are undeniable. They remind me of Joseph Goebbels. They also remind me of quarrelling housewives who fight on and for non-issues in the most passionate manner. The diatribe is all rhetoric and no substance. There is no message. The idea is to confuse. But confusion can help win one election at the most. To be a leader it requires meatier engagement. Rahul should refer to his great grandfather, Nehru. He loved to be with people not as a photo opportunity.

I don’t blame Rahul, perhaps the times is such where politicians have to play their part to the media and through them to the people, and being yourself could be risky, especially when you fear failure as a catastrophe.

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