Rahul Gandhi, is often criticized foe being a reluctant politician who is in politics more out of a compulsion rather than for his passion. Rahul Gandhi has implied the same in an earlier interview.
Very often he is ridiculed and his statements are the butt of jokes on social media. In a brutally jocular vein, he is even referred to as the biggest asset of Modi led BJP because of penchant for many a faux pas.
On the 17th of August, speaking at the “Sanjhi Virasat bachao” event hosted by Sharad Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP and former JDU chief, he made a scathing attack on the RSS, and accused it of not only imposing saffronizing various institutions but also their desire to change the basic structure of Indian Constitution. It drew BJP flak within 20 minutes when union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a press conference and furiously called Rahul Gandhi utterly irresponsible and also took a jibe at him that he bawls rather than delivering a speech. He further termed it a political hypocrisy of the opposition.
While Mr Gandhi is not known for his political deftness, he has however from time to time shown his astute observation of the circumstances prevailing in country. The most famous incident is when he criticized the Akali Dal for its inability to curb the menace of drugs in Punjab and made an estimate that 7 out of 10 youths are addicted to drugs while campaigning for 2012 Punjab assembly election.
Like always it drew huge criticism from the Akali-BJP coalition and people around him made fun of him. He was blamed for the defeat of then favourite Congress. However, within 2 year it was clear that drug problem was not just a political gimmick but a real problem that the Punjab’s youth are facing and the 2017 assembly election was mainly fought over the Drug problem which was won by INC by a two-thirds majority. This begs the question—what if Punjab took his observations seriously in 2012? Maybe many youths could have been saved by the menace of drugs.
Likewise, last year Rahul Gandhi made a visit to the BRD hospital which is now notorious across the country as 70 or more children died because of lack of oxygen. Rahul Gandhi had attempted to bring to the notice of PM Narender Modi that hospital lacks funds even for basic lifesaving equipment. However just two days before tragedy CM Yogi Adityanath visited the hospital but found nothing amiss. This incident too brings to light how Rahul Gandhi is unfairly targeted by the media and berated no end.
In his famous speech made in parliament after his 55 days sabbatical he addressed the agrarian policy of the government and made a statement that the BJP’s policies lack vision can potentially lead to an acute crisis for the farmers. Today, the suicide rate of farmers is at an all-time high, with farmers across the country protesting against the low MSP and high loan.
In Kashmir, he told Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister about upcoming problem in Kashmir and his views were rejected by Mr Jaitley. And just a month later the country witnessed the unfortunate Uri attack where 17 of our brave soldiers were martyred.
It is in this backdrop that his statement about RSS tarnishing Constitution should be assessed. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that in January 2016 Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar was appointed VC of JNU and was criticized heavily due to his links with RSS. In his inaurgation speech he pitched for “Nation building” and strengthening the “varsity’s heterogeneous” character. However, just a month later JNU incident followed and he kept mum all time. He even proposed to install a Tank at JNU to instil patriotism among students. Meanwhile, Sudershan Rao another ideologue of the right-wing replaced eminent economist Amartya Sen as Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University.
In 2014, when BJP came to the power, Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, an active member of RSS affiliated to the Akhil Bhartiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana , which was established to rewrite history from a “Nationalist Perspective” was appointed chairperson of Indian Council of Historical research. Our country even witnessed in BJP ruled states how attempts been made to remove not only Mughals from history but also Jawaharlal Nehru, first PM of India.
In the Judiciary, the then Chief Justice of India shamed the Government for creating a logjam in the appointment of Judges as 40 to 50% of Judges’ positions are vacant. The opposition, especially Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal accused the government for creating this logjam as an unholy motive of the Modi government to fill the place with RSS people rather than those selected by Supreme Court Collegium.
The Media, which is considered as 4th pillar of Constitution has been reduced to being a mouthpiece of ruling party. Subhash Chandra owner of Zee News was made an MP with the support of Haryana BJP. Republic a leading English News Channel is co-owned by Arnab Goswami and Rajeev Chandrashekhar is known for their blatant bias in favour of the BJP. Arnab Goswami is the son of a BJP leader in Assam and Rajiv Chandrashekhar is an RS MP in addition to being the Vice President of NDA in Kerala.
As a corollary, NDTV (which is seen as resisting BJP’s coercion tactics) owner Pranoy Roy was raided by the Income Tax department, which was denounced as Political Vendetta. NDTV even faced a one-day Ban which was lifted after Govt faced severe criticism from the editors’ guild. The day for ban was 9th November 2016, a day later PM Modi announced demonetization which indicates that it was a well thought out strategy.
Even in other institutes such as FTII, which witnessed a 139 day long strike of students who were protesting against appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman because he was too mediocre to hold such prestigious position. The nation knowns all too well the tantrums of Pahlaj Nihalani during his tenure as CBFC chairman which was riddled with controversy as it was alleged that he was working on the “Sanskari” agenda of the RSS. He made an attempt to cut various scenes from Udta Punjab, a movie that addressed the drug problem in Punjab and also to cut the word ‘intercourse’ from a Shah Rukh Khan movie. When sacked he revealed that he was pressurized by the government to comply with their directives.
It is therefore detrimental to wish away Rahul Gandhi’s allegations are mere political rhetoric & poke fun at him. In doing so we are putting our democracy at peril!