We Indians like the people who kick and abuse, a senior journalist used to say, but nobody took him seriously. It was jabbering by a frustrated, unemployed media person. But he must be chuckling now, he has been proved right.
Six months earlier Rahul Gandhi was derisively called Pappu, and was sidelined because he was considered to have no political understanding and of lacking leadership ability. The same Pappu is now called Rahulji, the tallest leader amongst chiefs of all opposition parties. DMK’s chief Stalin has unequivocally declared that Rahul would be prime minister if opposition snatches power from Modi.
How this transition from an also ran to within striking distance of the victory post achieved? It is the barrage of accusations by Rahul heaped on Modi and his ability to innovative invectives. Chowkidar chor hai and suit boot ki sirkar are Rahul’s original and exclusive innovations. The constant verbal assault on Modi made Rajiv’s face made most recognised among all the opposition leaders. And then winning the three states in the Hindi belt from the BJP was credited.
But, it may sound incongruous the attribution of triumph in three states to Rahul will not increase the odds that he will be leading the opposition in the 2019 General Election. And it will undoubtedly hamper a Grand Alliance to contest Modi in 2019. The signs are already there. The TMC, Mayawati and Akhilesh did not attend the swearing-in ceremonies of the Congress chief ministers in the just won three states.
How many more will stop interacting with Rahul will be known soon. Only Chandrababu’s loyalty is assured, but now KCR will make him vulnerable in Andhra so his adherence will hardly be beneficial to Rahul. In fact Congress victory in the three states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh should not be attributed to the popularity or leadership excellence of the Cøngress President. Like in Punjab, the state leaders, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot had built up network in Rajasthan, Singhdeo and Bagela in Chattisgarh and Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia had korganizations already built by state leaders who actually won the States for the Congress. Rahul will have to bring back any oter state to be called a leader and a rival to Modi, who will not go down without fight.
But to win he will have to get back the core supporters and assuage the farmers. Promises won’t do. Traders who have been the biggest supporters are upset with GST. Modi has to drastically amend it, as polls are just a few months away. Hence, not notes but votes are needed.
Another en bloc supporter are urban middle class. They have been annoyed with hi gh prices of petrol and slow growth, perol pries have m down, a commentary, seminars, and dicusions on what has been done will be needed to retain the urban middle class and students. And forget about Ram Mandir, if Modi can abolish Art 370, he will get much more votes. And avoid claiming about curbing corruption. Its like rubbing salt over the wound; Dishonesty is in our DNA. Modi would not have ridden in a rickshaw in the last 20 years and must not have noticed written on the back of some of them, 90% ghuskhor hai, hamara desh mahan hai. Modi has stirred and shaken this 90%.
Modi will have to stop being a reformer or messiah telling what to do and not to do and be a fighting politician, as he was in 2014. One good change in Modi is that he has started accusing Gandhi parivar by name and in language which is almost abusive. Remember what the senior journalist said, we Indians like those who abuse.
By Vijay Dutt