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In 2019, Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who can defeat Modi

By Newsd
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Last week, the Congress President, Rahul Gandhi undertook a four-day visit to Germany and the United Kingdom as a part of his party’s NRI outreach program. In this visit, besides his meetings with politicians of the host countries and speaking to Indian Overseas Congress members, he also spoke and interacted with students and researchers at the Bucerius Summer School, Hamburg, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London and the London Scholl of Economics. Moreover, he also addressed the Indian Journalists’ Association in London and engaged in a free-wheeling conversation with its members where he discussed topics as varied and vivid as popular support for populist leaders like Trump and Modi to Vijay Mallya extradition case to the comparison between the RSS and Muslim Brotherhood.  All these interactions were unscripted and Rahul Gandhi was open to any type of question from the audience or moderators.

Rahul Gandhi gave candid and thoughtful answers to a wide range of questions in all his interactions. He was forthright and blunt and at the same time polite, pleasant and charming. While speaking on Indian issues, he competently compared them with issues in other parts of the world, which was a clear manifestation of his familiarity and greater understanding of key challenges affecting the country and the rest of the world. In all the meetings, he clearly came out as highly intelligent and sufficiently erudite.  A leader with empathy and wisdom, who clearly understands the seriousness of challenges and at the same time prepared to face them gladly in spite of the risks involved.

Rahul Gandhi’s performances in all his interactions during this Europe trip were of the high standard not only in comparison to his contemporaries in India but also among the global leaders.

Moreover, he deserves to be credited for his willingness to be grilled, heckled and hugged by an unknown audience while his main political rival and India’s Prime Minister has not yet gathered enough courage to hold a press conference. However, if someone looks at the coverage of his trip to Europe in Indian media, there will be an impression quite contrary to the actual praiseworthy performance of the Rahul Gandhi. It is not surprising that the BJP, which considers him as the real threat to its hope and aspiration of retaining the power after the 2019 election for being critical of his comments and observations. Another matter that they had asked a spokesman to do this task, who is more (in)famous for buffoonery hyperboles than raising the issues of any importance. It is also understandable for some TV channels, who have ceased to play the role of media and have become Modi’s advertising billboards, to manufacture imaginary controversies over his comments in order to earn some TRP for their primetime debates.

However, it is extremely surprising that some commentators who take pride in calling themselves as liberal and secular have been also criticizing Rahul Gandhi’s statements on one reason or another.

If someone finds a problem in his description of the targeted unemployment of a particular group creating higher support for the ISIS, some others criticize him for his truthful admission of the cultural reasons behind India not being a safe place for women. There are also some who take him to task for comparing the RSS with Muslim Brotherhood. All these commentators are educated and intelligent enough to know that what Rahul Gandhi has said are veritable and spot-on, but at the same time, they are nationalist enough to not to publicly accept it. It is as if blasphemous in India to admit the fact that there are shortcomings in the country’s culture and Hindus can be as radicalized as Muslims.

Defeating BJP first priority of Opposition in 2019, leadership later: Rahul Gandhi

Unfortunately, there is as if a competition is going on in India among many commentators and opinion-makers in constructing a fictitious narrative of the country, with the twisted facts and alternative truths, without remorse of wrongs committed in the past and the lack of empathy and compassion for others at present. India is being force-fed with emotions of religious-cultural superiority and arrogance. A true patriot is who loves her or his country but at the same time open to see the faults and shortcomings of it and willing to strive hard to change things for the better. True patriotism is not being aggressive and to blindly being part of the herd in the name of protecting national honour, rather brave enough to face reality as it is and is analytical, open-minded and protective. While Rahul Gandhi as a true patriot has been open and brave in admitting the serious nature of challenges India is facing at present, liberal commentators of the country have been unfortunately caught by the nationalism bug.

Some of these commentators have also made a big issue of Rahul Gandhi’s denial of his party’s role in1984 anti-Sikh riots. Though the focus of criticism is that he has not openly admitted his party’s involvement in the riot, the commentators have overlooked the fact that he has no way justified that violent tragedy and has expressed his desire that culprits be severely punished. The day before his answer to the journalist, Rahul Gandhi had also told at the LSE that Dr Manmohan Singh’s apology in the Rajya Sabha in 2005 over the killings of the Sikhs in 1984 was on behalf of the Congress Party. Rahul Gandhi’s mother and the former Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also publicly expressed her regret for the riot twice in the past, in 1998 and 1999. Under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership, the Congress Party has even selected a Sikh as the Prime Minister of the country for 10 years. In spite of all these, it is quite unbelievable that some commentators judge Rahul Gandhi’s commitment to secularism in general and commitment to minority rights in particular on the basis of part of his comments on an event, which he had taken place when he was a kid.

It seems that a section of liberal commentators still suffers from the problem in accepting Rahul Gandhi’s maturation as a capable politician, an erudite and engaging public speaker and a popular leader. They have been continuing to belittle his leadership for the last five years and have written his political obituary several times.  In spite of several opinion polls in recent weeks showing clearly that Rahul Gandhi is way ahead in popular perception as the only serious alternative to dethrone Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister after 2019 election, these ever-skeptical media pundits are refusing to read writing on the wall and are engaged in a process of inventing new alternatives to Modi every other day. A successful battle to retain India’s democratic secular value in 2019 can only be fought under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Sooner the liberal literati realize it, will be good for the country and its future.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.