By Proloy Bagchi:
Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of the Indian National Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi has suddenly become active and is practically slamming Prime Minister Modi virtually every day. Since his return from what has been termed a sabbatical he has been latching on to any and every issue to fire charges at Prime Minister Modi or his government.
It seems almost like the proxy war that Pakistan is waging against India. On realization that it was impossible to take away a military victory from India in an all out war Gen. Zia ul Haq, the Pakistani dictator, propounded the doctrine of “bleeding India through thousand cuts”. That is how the proxy war commenced against India in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country. The proxy war did bleed India somewhat but soon enough the country got prepared to deal with it. In the intervening three decades since Gen Zia’s death India came a long way from its depressing economic condition to become a full-blown developing economy, clocking in some years a GDP rate of growth of around 8%. Without getting unnerved it was in a position to take the “thousand cuts” in its stride. The “cuts” eventually had minimal impact.
Here, it is Rahul and his cohorts who are trying to inflict the cuts on an opponent who seldom responds. Rahul’s causticity and sarcasm have, however, only increased by the day. He started by talking of Modi government as “soot-boot ki sarkar” (a government of suited and booted people) hinting at the suit having pin-stripes spelling his name which Modi wore during Barak Obama’s visit and ended up rating the performance of Modi’s government as “zero” – unmindful of what the performance of his own party’s government was. It was, in fact, the non-performance of his party’ government that yielded the massive mandate for Modi.
He accused Modi of being a friend of the ‘corporates’ to whom, he said, the lands acquired under the proposed land acquisition bill would be transferred forgetting the Coalgate scam where massive corruption took place under the nose of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and lucrative coal blocks were allotted to Congress’s corporate cronies. He also accused Modi of playing “politics of revenge” by scrapping the Amethi food park project. As it turned out, it was a misleading charge as the company which was to set up the park withdrew its offer finding the project unviable and that happened before Modi’s government came to power. Besides, it has now been reported that the project was extended eight times since 2008 and yet Rahul, who was and is the MP from Amethi, could not have the project implemented even by his own party’s government.
All kinds of fanciful charges – all pieces of disinformation – are being thrown at Modi in the hope that, if not all, at least a few would stick. The Congress sycophants find Rahul’s resurgence awesome even though some of his charges are baseless. His attempts seem to be only to belittle the Modi government and run down the Prime Minister in the eyes of the common man. The “introspection” for which he was allowed initially “8 or 10 days” absence by his mother, the Party President, later stretching to as many as 59 days, does not seem to have yielded anything worthwhile except a resolve to snipe at the BJP or the Prime Minister. There is no discourse or a debate; ideology is not involved – for the simple reason that the Congress has had, if at all, a confused ideology. What is happening is only a one-sided unleashing of a fusillade that is mostly dud. After the sabbatical Rahul seems to have resolved to make himself relevant – having been a failure in the Parliament and at the hustings. Perhaps, the dire straits that he and his mother brought the Congress to has put the fear of its extinction in them. Hence the attacks any which way, presumably to remain in public eye!
The crushing defeat administered to it at the elections and later the immense approbation that the Prime Minister garnered inside the country and abroad seems to have discomfited the Congress and its leaders. The euphoria with which Modi started his rule may have somewhat waned as normally happens. But after a whole year people have found his rule effective. The expected quick fixes, however, did not materialize largely because of the mess left behind by Rahul’s Congress government. A nose-diving growth rate, flight of foreign and Indian capital, dipping manufacturing with rising unemployment, the fiscal and current account deficits and persistent high retail inflation will take some time in unraveling. Nonetheless, his concerted efforts brought down the rate of inflation, of course, with generous help from as unlikely a quarter as the global oil markets where prices registered a sharp decline. Despite an obstructive Opposition in the Upper House led by the Congress Modi’s government has given a new direction to the economy bringing about an environment of optimism and hope. Even international financial institutions like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, Moody’s etc. have expressed confidence in the economy and have predicted around 8% growth in 2015-16. His biggest achievement has been a corruption-free first year in office. Earlier there would be reports of a new scam almost every day involving some minister or the other. People were fed up and they desperately wanted a change. In the new dispensation so far not one politician has been named for corrupt practices.
More importantly, Modi’s success has been remarkable in respect of economic diplomacy abroad. So far he has visited 19 countries and in each he has had tremendous response and has been able to put traction in his “Make in India” campaign. His popularity with the most prominent world leaders in the East or the West is unparalleled. Besides, the Diasporas rallied round and gave him amazing receptions whichever country he happened to be in. No Indian Prime Minister had ever been so remarkably cheered in world capitals as Modi. Most impressive has been Modi’s impact on the chief executive of the world’s most powerful nation, Barak Obama. They are on first name terms and Obama has even eulogized Modi on several occasions. No wonder, Fortune magazine placed Modi at the fifth position among the most influential in the world.
One, therefore, gets a sneaking suspicion that jealousy, the “green-ey’d monster”, has taken over Rahul and his Party. They all along overlooked his record of development in Gujarat and its all-round progress which had received critical acclaim even in the West. They had all along condemned BJP as communal and Modi as “maut ke saudagar” (merchant of death) whereas wearing the mask of secularism they were no less communal. To their discomfiture, they now find the same man working a majority in the Lok Sabha. And, what’s more, he is welcomed, honoured and feted by world leaders during his peregrinations abroad. They, therefore, feel, he has to be stopped in his tracks – to, at least prevent him from achieving success in his efforts, if not for improving their own prospects. In the process it wouldn’t matter to them if the country’s economic growth and wellbeing of its people suffered. So, the theme is: obstruct him in the Parliament and bring him down in the public the public eye – with a “thousand cuts”!
Alas, they have not been successful; the year-end report card says it all!