There were not many things going wrong for Rahul Gandhi in the run-up to the elections for the 17th Lok Sabha. There were more positives than he would have imagined a year ago. The Congress had won a few states in the recently concluded Assembly Elections, notably the MP and Rajasthan ones.
The Supreme Court had not given its verdict yet in the Rafale Fighter deal. The Congress accusation of procedural lapses/ deviations may have had something in it.
The Citizenship bill which the BJP government advocated was being seen suspiciously in the North-East. The agrarian crisis in parts of the country owing to financial and climatic pressures were also not a good sign for the BJP.
Undone by the Foot-in-the-mouth virus and the Pulwama attack
Rahul Gandhi could not build on the ‘positives’ in the run-up to the elections. One key element/ event he had absolutely no control over was the terrorist attack on Indian Army personnel at Pulwama. Also the decisive response (Balakhot) to it by the BJP-led NDA government.
The BJP was quick to leverage the above to foster an aura of decisiveness and Nationalistic spirit. A Rahul supporter would have been disappointed with the Congress’ response. Rather than appreciate the Balakhot manoeuvre, the Congress camp managed to paint itself a Doubting Thomas. By raising the spectre of a ‘con‘, the Congress unwittingly contributed to handing away the Scepture.
Alleging Con-with-the-Wind and other ‘gaffes’
The Pakistani Air Force may have reported meekly to their bosses that the Indian Air Force has gone (back) with the wind, if at all they had intruded into Pakistani airspace to bomb the terror camps (if at all they existed). But the Congress and the opposition at large took pains to paint a picture of a Con-With-the-Wind, which obviously did not go well with the masses. Proofs showcased by the IAF showed not only the non-necessity of large-scale holes/ damages on the roofs of the terror camps, but also the holes the Opposition was digging into its image.
But then Pulwama and Balakhot is not of our own making. The foot-in-the-mouth behaviour surely is. Starting with the very vulgar ‘Chowkhidhar Chor Hain’ to the more audacious claim that even the Supreme Court was saying ‘Chowkhidhar Chor Hain’, Mr Gandhi has well and truly on the way.
Openly tarnishing the popular PM of the country (known for his personal code of austerity etc) and thereby the nation’s image seemed puerile. To be fair, one did not really take to the late Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s name being raked up by Mr Narendra Modi in unsavoury terms. But these instances came a bit late in the campaign and paled in comparison surely.
No Opposition, No Good, for Nation
As written earlier, the country (as with any successful democracy) needs a strong opposition. However well ‘intention-ed’ we hope our ruling party to be, it is in the people’s interest to have a Strong watchdog. But to be a strong opposition, one needs to be strong first. Having sketchy/ patchy/ self-contradicting tie-ups with parties like the TMC did not reflect well. In the land of the Hooghly, far from questioning her unholy shenanigans and hooliganism, the Congress desperately played ball with Didi‘s Comedy Show.
With less than 10% of the total seats in this Lok Sabha as well, the Congress has again fallen short of being eligible for the tag of the Leader of the Opposition. But then, it first needs to showcase Leadership Principles. It needs a Principled, democratically elected Leader to begin with. For India’s sake…. surely not for Indira’s!