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Non-biological to logical - It’s a long, tough race for RaGa

INDIA bloc has a big handle in the unconstitutional electoral bonds scam. The edifices built with the ill-gotten money must be demolished or taken over and used for public utilities such as schools, clinics, libraries or old age homes. Come on INDIA, fight for it

Non-biological to logical - It’s a long, tough race for RaGa

Rahul and INDIA should not forget that the BJP has already started working overtime to damn the alliance and pull-out old cases. In fact, Modi has said in so many words in the Lok Sabha that these leaders are out on bail in many scams

Rahul Gandhi may be basking in the glory of INDIA bloc’s success in denying the BJP an absolute majority on its own strength in the Lok Sabha. His body language and the confidence levels are something new to watch – be in Parliament, outside or his post poll political rallies. But does this confidence reflect across the rank and file within the party?

The Congress, which has been down in dumps for the past decade plus, thanks to its own internal mess, leadership failure in the face of a combined opposition onslaught, has witnessed some green shoots now. Rahul’s Bharat Yatras have helped galvanise the rank-and-file but the captain by and large remained either aloof or jumped the sinking ships/boats.

Wrong selection of leaders and candidates for various elections, aided and abetted by high command’s low interest have all ruined the party across the country. Rahul Gandhi is candid enough to admit that the party was betting on the wrong horses.

At his party meeting in Ahmedabad, he explained: “There are race horses and there are the ones which are used in weddings. But we seem to have used wedding horses for our races and vice versa. Now the situation has to be corrected.”

This wrong selection has been a major problem for the party in almost all States, and not just Gujarat.

The BJP in Gujarat was the first to react to Rahul's Lok Sabha statement that the real Hindus do not believe in violence. It is the BJP-RSS culture that preaches violence, untruth and hatred, he said pointing out both his hands at the ruling benches, as we said in our last column. Led by PM Narendra Modi, the BJP took umbrage and began to protest against Rahul.

Hitting back, Rahul said he got the idea of breaking the BJP Government in Gujarat when he heard about the Bajrang Dal attack on the Congress office. He was obviously speaking to the galleries – an art that he picked up from Modi and seems to have mastered it. Rahul has won his claps and cheers in Ahmedabad. But building, sorry rebuilding the party from the scratch, is a tough task, though not an impossible one.

The next Assembly elections are three years away and it is a good time to start the Congress Jodo campaign in the state. Rahul promised he himself, Priyanka and other top leaders would park themselves in the state and work with the party in picking the right horses for the political race. “Let wedding horses do their own job,” he said with his characteristic, mischievous smile and dimple showing on his right cheek. He knows it is tough to crack Modi-Sha’s Gujarat though he told the combine in the Lok Sabha that INDIA combine would defeat the BJP on their home turf. He said there has been a widespread, palpable unrest with the traditional BJP vote bank – the MSMEs who he said have been ruined by the wrong implementation of the GST. Unemployment has hit the youth hard, uncontrolled price rise has impacted all and the farmer unrest is visible, he said.

So, will he opt for a bottom-up approach to shakeup the top and produce a new leadership? Rahul admits that he has been perceived as a non-serious and an unreliable politician. But the learnings from his two Bharat Yatras have changed him. Even Modi had to stand up and acknowledge his 54-year-old opponent’s leadership. Later, Modi hit back at Rahul and his Balak Buddhi (childish mentality) and went on ranting jibes at Rahul’s so-called immaturity. The net result, as always, was the main issues such as burning Manipur and rising unemployment got sidetracked. This was followed by a continuous trolling of Rahul by twisting his comment.

Rahul is doing well by responding, literally on his toes, to the crisis. He was in Hathras to meet the relatives of stampede victims on a day the Ambanis visited 10 Janpath to invite the Gandhi’s for Anant Ambani’s wedding in Mumbai. Then, as we discussed, the LoP was in Ahmedabad to bolster the morale of Congress workers against the Bajrang Dal attack. He has been continuously spreading the message – Daro Mat, Darao Mat – and playing on the party’s symbol – the Abhay Hastam.

Modi’s and the BJP’s twist of Rahul’s ‘Hindu violence’ statement got exposed when the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math said he had found nothing wrong in what the Congress MP said. "We listened attentively to Rahul Gandhi's entire speech. He unequivocally emphasizes that Hinduism rejects violence," Swami Avimukteswaranand said.

Rahul’s immediate priorities would be to attend to the party’s mess in Maharashtra where Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar’s NCP have been quite accommodative to the Congress. He must spend a lot of time and energy to resurrect the party after a spate of desertions as part of the BJP’s washing machine politics. Then the grassroot of the INDIA alliance must work in tandem which is much more challenging in the civic elections.

He has to focus on Haryana as well since the alliance with AAP is not going to work there and the BJP will strike back with vengeance after its losses in the Lok Sabha poll.

Jharkhand, a third State that will go to polls this year, is not much of a problem as the INDIA block’s morale is pretty good in the wake of the CM Heman Soren’s release on bail by the High Court in a money laundering case related to a land scam. The High Court’s observation that there existed reasons to believe that Soren was not guilty. This case strengthens INDIA’a argument that the BJP and Mo-Sha have been harassing opponents with false ED-CBI-IT raids and cases and jailing them. Rahul and INDIA should not forget that the BJP has already started working overtime to damn the alliance and pull-out old cases. In fact, Modi has said in so many words in the Lok Sabha that these leaders are out on bail on many scams.

INDIA has the handle of the scam of scams, the Electoral Bond scam. The Supreme Court had struck down the non-transparent bonds as unconstitutional and this should have been a major election issue. A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to have the amounts donated to various political parties confiscated. INDIA should press for the same cause in Parliament. Shouldn’t the party buildings constructed with the ill-gotten money be demolished? The Supreme Court had ordered the razing of five buildings at Maradu, Kochi for CRZ violations. Not only that, the Kerala State Cabinet decided not to regularise 1,800 other structures which violated the CRZ rules. If the edifices built with the electoral bonds cannot be demolished, they must be taken over by the government for public use such as clinics, schools and libraries. The political parties should not be allowed to enjoy the benefits of unconstitutional earnings.

What about the quid-pro-quo benefits given to electoral bond donors? The Supreme Court could look into this corruption as well.

The entire Electoral Bond issue involving donations, favours, quid-pro-quo and arrests is more complicated than a plate of noodles and only a court monitored independent probe should be able to untangle it. Will INDIA bloc latch on to this or get bogged down with the narrow, petty fights. So far, they have done well by ignoring the Balak Buddhi jibe.

(The columnist is a Mumbai-based author and independent media veteran, running websites and a youtube channel known for his thought-provoking messaging.)

BN Kumar
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