Rahul Gandhi (RaGa as he is popularly known), for the last one year or so, rather , from the time he was nominated as the party president has suddenly found his voice after remaining virtually silent or absent in the first 10 years of Parliament when his “Maun-Mohan” government was in power. Here is an individual who genuinely believes that the nation owes him allegiance because of his ancestors and that he is entitled to everything.
He is entitled to the Presidentship of the party just because of his surname only. He believes that he is entitled to all the trappings of power and perquisites because of the sacrifices made by his so-called ancestors, particularly M K Gandhi. He can say anything because he knows that he has an army of leaders from his party who will come to his defense. And so, he can also aspire to become the leader of the country without any accountability.
In the recent past, it is being seen that RAGa seems to depend on the philosophy that if he shouts out an allegation, crying himself hoarse long enough, some of the dirt may stick. He assumes that because of the financially dirty reputation of his own family and party, whereby he and his family have had a sticky finger in virtually every pie, Prime Minister Modi can also be tarnished with such nonsensical allegations. He recognises that the only salvation for him and his family is to somehow convince the electorate that Mr Modi and the ruling party is “also corrupt”!
Deep inside he knows that this is not going to happen as there has been no case of corruption in the last five years or as one is inclined to say “Modi Era.” Therefore, it seems that RaGa has decided to invent a pack of lies. If told repeatedly and convincingly, lies and untruths can certainly sow a seed of doubt in the mind of the listener for a limited period.
Let us examine some of his more recent lies and about turns
- Rafale: Rahul Gandhi’s arguments on the Rafale aircraft purchase are moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. He needs a counter to the Augusta Westland exposures that are likely to happen and the Bofors matter that has sunk into the minds of the electorate. His shrill comments are being loyally parroted by the senior Congress leaders because once their”Prince” has spoken, they have no option but to comply and defend. They have nothing concrete to establish their allegations. Rafale issue is just like a Pandora’s Box of lies for Rahul. He has invented many lies through all the hullaballoo over the aircrafts. Some of them are :
1.1 Rahul Gandhi said that making Reliance an offset partner was a tradeoff for Dassault to get the deal with India: another lie peddled by RaGa. He claimed that this was said by Dassault. The truth is that Dassault never said choosing Reliance was mandatory. Only thing mandatory was the offsets clause, not any specific company. India wanted Dassault to fulfil certain offsets obligations so that the deal can go through. To fulfil offset obligations, Dassault was free to choose whoever they wished to deal with.
Dassault’s own press release says they have partnerships with companies such BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTELand hundred-odd other companies. Their CEO Eric Trappier, while speaking to media has made it clear that Dassault has many offsets partners and Reliance is just one of them. He also said the choice of offsets partners is Dassault’s prerogative and Indian or French governments have no say in the matter.
1.2. Rahul Gandhi claimed that a senior officer at the Ministry of Defence was ‘punished’ by the Modi government for submitting a dissent note on the Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi claimed that the officer was forced to take leave when he presented his reservation about the benchmark price and later his objections were ‘overruled’ by another senior officer.
This lie was also a bogus claim as the officer himself spoke to the media and denied any kind of ‘punishment’. Busting the ‘forced leave’ narrative, he said that he was on an educational trip that was scheduled long before.
1.3. Rahul Gandhi claimed that there was a quid pro quo between Reliance and former President of France Francois Hollande: Another claim made by Rahul was that the Reliance Entertainment had financed ex-French President Hollande’s girlfriend, actress Julie Gayet’s movie. Going by the media reports, it came to the fore that Reliance Entertainment has no agreement with Julie Gayet or her company, Rouge International, nor has any payment ever been made by Reliance Entertainment to either of them in relation to the film.
As a matter of fact it was clarified by Reliance later that it had invested in its partners Visvires Capital, a French financing firm, which had financed 15 per cent of the film..
1,4. Rahul Gandhi, in a new low, said that ex-French President Hollande called PM Modi a thief: This was Rahul Gandhi’s social media team trolling and Gandhi was surely shooting from Hollande’s shoulders. Hollande contradicted Rahul Gandhi immediately and said that he was unaware of any pressure to choose Reliance as offsets partner and that only Dassault can answer if there was any pressure. Dassault has all through maintained that their offset partners are purely their choice.
In separate statements Dassault Aviation and the French government clarified that the pact for offset clause between Dassault and Reliance Defense was a private agreement between two companies and neither the French nor the Indian government was involved in it.
1.5 Rahul even tried to bluff the Parliament: Rahul created a furore when he tried to bluff the Parliament and claimed that French President told him that there was not a security clause in the Rafale deal. He said “I personally met the French President (Emmanuel Macron) and asked him if there is such a pact between the French and Indian governments. The French President told me that there is no such pact between the French and Indian governments. This is the truth, and he told me that I have no objection to it (details of Rafale deal) being made public, you can tell it to entire India.” But to his embarrassment, soon the French government refuted Rahul Gandhi’s claim and said clearly that there is indeed a clause that prohibits both parties from sharing classified information.
The spokesperson of France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said, “France and India concluded in 2008 a security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner, that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defense equipment of India or France.” The French President said publicly in an interview that, “In India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can’t reveal all details.”
1.6. Rahul Gandhi lied that the Cabinet Committee on Security was never consulted on the Rafale deal: The truth is that the relevant sections that deal with the Inter-Governmental Agreement for the Rafale purchase in 2016 lie in Articles 71and 72 of the 2013 Defence Procurement Policy. Again, Rahul seem to have forgotten how to read the relevant sections, which surprisingly require no Defence Procurement Board (DPB), Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) or, indeed, CCS approval, for any purchase under this category. All they need is the approval of a competent financial authority (CFA) —in this case, the finance minister, who evidently was consulted. Also, the proposals in the Rafale deal were presented to the Defense Acquisition Council on three occasions and its directions were incorporated. The proposal then got a CCS nod only after which the Inter-Governmental Agreement happened between India & France in 2016.
- When Rahul Gandhi was exposed for his untruths, as a last resort he blamed Dassault CEO Eric Trappier and called him a liar: In a candid interview to Smita Prakash of ANI, Trappier said “I do not lie. The truth I declared and statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation for lying. In my position as CEO, you don’t lie.”
Rahul Gandhi has been claiming that the National Democratic Alliance deal is more expensive than the UPA deal to which Trappier called out Gandhi’s claims, saying: “36 is double of 18, it should have been double the price, but we had to decrease the price by 9%… plus the Modi government insisted on offsets deal.”
On the Reliance joint venture, he said: “We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV (Dassault-Reliance). Shares in the JV are 49% for Dassault and 51% for Reliance.” On Rahul Gandhi’s bundle of lies, he said “I am sad.”
- Crony Capitalism: It is not a hidden fact now that Rahul and his family have been beneficiaries from various corporate houses over the years. In order to protect himself and his family from the glaring corruption charges, he has trained his gun towards the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that Modi is promoting crony capitalism and helping Ambanis. The fact that Anil Ambani’s company has recently filed for bankruptcy has been conveniently ignored by Rahul since this goes against his narrative.
- Mr Parrikar: He made a personal visit to the Goa Chief Minister purportedly to enquire about his health and then promptly misquoted Mr Parrikar at an election rally. When his lie was questioned by Mr Parrikar, he tried to shift the blame to Mr Modi without any compunction.
- EVM’s: Rahul Gandhi blames the Electronic Voting Machines when his party loses an election and maintains a studied silence when his party wins an election. For him, EVM’s and the Election Commission are simply a matter of convenience – to be abused when they are perceived to be working against him and his party and to be ignored when they work in his favour!
- Loan Waivers: Rahul Gandhi announced loan waivers through the election campaigns in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. To the credit of the new governments, the loans were waived immediately. However, the poor farmers generally received loan waivers of less than Rs 1,000, making a mockery of the promises. No one has bothered to revisit the commitments made. As has been the wont of the Congress party, elections are over and after five years there will be new promises to be made.
- Non-Performing Assets (NPA): Rahul Gandhi has been busy blaming the Prime Minister for non-performing assets without understanding that loans become non-performing after they are due. Loans are normally given for say 5 years and after that repayment is due. Once the loan is due and if repayment is not commenced, loans are categorised non-performing. Therefore, NPA’s during the NDA tenure were loans given during the UPA tenure. So, the Mallyas, the Niravs or the Chauksis, all are creations of his government and not the present one.
- Job Creation: He has just claimed that he has developed a plan to create 70 million jobs in the next 5 years. No plans have been announced on how this will be achieved and which sectors these jobs will be created. However, no accountability is sought from him on anything he says. In a latest CII survey the MSME sector has seen job creation grow by 13.9 per cent in the last four years, with micro enterprises the biggest contributor. PTI reported that the survey projects this growth to continue over the next three years. Data showed that in over one lakh MSMEs, 3,32,394 new jobs were created in the time period that amounts to a 3.3 per cent increase per year over the last four years. The survey added: ‘Given that the total workforce size, according to the Labour Bureau, is estimated at 450 million, the overall job additions work out to 13.514.9 million per annum.’ It was also found that Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Telangana were the largest job generators in the MSME sector. But in terms of exporters, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana were the top three states. The major sectors of job creation were hospitality and tourism, textiles and apparels, metal products, machinery, etc.
- Saradha Scam: the stand of Congress party and its President Rahul Gandhi is very amusing on this issue. It seems that he cant make up his mind on to what stand should he take in this matter. From talking about the losses in 2014 to castigating Mamata Banerjee for not taking action on the scam to now offering full support, no one really knows where he stands and what his next U-turn will be. Clearly, his position is based on what he believes may get him some headlines and keep in the loop. The past will be addressed by his minions and he will be protected at all costs.
- Relations with other opposition parties: It is interesting to see how easily, Rahul Gandhi changes his position. From cursing and abusing another opposition party leader to extending unquestioned support happens seamlessly and without any explanation. It would be interesting to see if there is any leader who he has not abused and later sought to partner with. Does any opposition party leader believe anything he says or is it simply a matter of convenience and prudence to stay silent till the elections are over?
If one makes sense of the above mentioned incidents, it becomes very clear that Rahul seems hellbent on politicising every issue without bringing any of his lies to a logical conclusion. He has often been asked to show proof of the various allegations he keeps making and by his own admission on Rafale, he does not yet have proof. His delusional self seems to believe that proof will appear on its own to establish that he was right. Till then, he will continue with his “shoot and scoot” politics unabashedly.
The Congress is India’s oldest party and has known some great leaders in the past. And though the party has many deep flaws, one expects the Congress, more than others, to maintain some decency and decorum. Unfortunately, the current face of the party, Rahul Gandhi, seems intent on destroying whatever is left of the party’s image with his increasingly low level of politics. While criticising political opponents is only to be expected, what is disgraceful is that the Gandhi scion has been resorting to blatant lies in order to show the BJP and Narendra Modi in a poor light.
With the announcement of the elections and the political calculations have become rife, the emerging scene seems to be a keen contest between the BJP and the Congress Party. Narendra Modi, who has been perceived as an able administrator and a leader who means business, and his corruption free and transparent government have become an eyesore for the Congress Party and its supporters. The single and only one agenda for the Congress Party now is to dislodge Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, defeat BJP and install Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi as country’s Prime Minister.
Playing with the public wisdom and taking them for granted is a dangerous game, and Rahul Gandhi is doing the same. It may cost him and his party dearly, and the slogan of “Congress-mukt Bharat” may become a happy reality in the near future.
He must understand that if that happens, blood will not on Modi’s but his own hands.
By Nilabh Krishna