Modi has failed his own self-worth by making uncharitable remarks on the late Rajiv Gandhi. Frankly, he didn’t need to
True leadership is tested in the most unfavourable and hostile conditions. And it commands respect when it emerges with grace under pressure. Or when its courage is under fire. No matter who or what the opponent, it is about the certain choices that you make in taking up a challenge than making uncertain moves, hoping they will hit the target, that prove whether you are qualified to be a class apart. On this count, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has always positioned himself as a larger than life deliverer — no matter how crafted or earned — should not have disrespected the dead, in this case, an assassinated Prime Minister. Plunging levels of indecency in public discourse may have ceased to surprise us anymore but at least one never expected Modi to take on Congress president Rahul Gandhi with the utterly reprehensible comment of “Your father’s life ended as Bhrashtachari No 1.” That, too, at a public rally where even the backbencher would know that Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a blast set off by a Tamil suicide bomber. People may have rightful reservations about Congress era incompetencies and Bofors but to link that accidental, tragic death to them is entirely uncalled for. Nothing can justify this lowly jibe from somebody who holds a prized Constitutional post and by virtue of its occupancy, is expected to set high standards. Besides, Modi emerged as a reaction to extreme anti-Congressism and, therefore, is expected to not use tropes but set a singular example that is not referenced in comparisons. He should fit the persona he wants to script a repeat history with, not sag from its contours. Agreed Rahul Gandhi’s own jibe of chowkidaar chor hai began the downward spiral when no probe or court has pronounced the Prime Minister guilty of wrong-doing but to return that ill-timed belligerence or immaturity with such repugnance is certainly unexpected and unwarranted. Yes, he is under pressure on Rafale to tear down the Congress charge of corruption by pulling out Bofors but wouldn’t it have been better to deal with the inconsistent facts of that case? Why get personal? Besides, Rajiv Gandhi himself was absolved of being a direct recipient of the Bofors payoffs by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court refused to entertain a petition against him. The new BJP leadership must remember that it is justifying the candidacy of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur on the same logic that the court had not pronounced her guilty. Surely, the party realises the trap of selective interpretations? Or the fact that all parties invoke “the innocent until proven guilty clause” to suit their convenience? Worse, senior BJP leaders amplified Modi’s remark instead of letting it lapse organically.
Nobody is arguing that there should be no critique of previous regimes to justify the alternative policies of one’s own. But in hitting below the belt, Modi ended up making Rahul look like the victim and have the entire Opposition rally around him and the Congress by extension. This at a time when the glue was sort of coming off the angularities of the mahagathbandhan. He just gave them a reason to stay together. This also comes as a cushion after BSP chief Mayawati’s large-heartedness of the day before when she asked her voters to throw their weight behind the Congress. As for Rahul, it gave him the opportunity to undo the frivolity of his hugplomacy in Parliament, take the moral high ground and emerge convincing in contrast. His tweet on karma, and claiming that he harboured no ill will about such vicious attacks on his bloodline rather than himself endeared him to many. He was expedient enough to take a dig at the new BJP leadership’s hypocrisy on values of the Indian parivaar, recalling how the party had sidelined mentors like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Frankly, Modi did not need to engage in this vitriol if he is so sure himself of making past the magic number. In fact, in contrast to his 2014 campaign, where he posited himself in a far more statesmanlike manner and, therefore, seemed earnest about progressive development, the gallery-playing and divisive Modi of 2019 is hard to reconcile with. It doesn’t behove the expansive confidence he has exuded so far and makes him look pathetically insecure. One would have thought that he would graduate to the next level instead and change the discourse from name-calling to one of real issues, something which is totally missing this time.
Courtesy: The Pioneer