Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference at AICC office | Manvender Vashist/PTI
File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi | Manvender Vashist/PTI
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New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi has got his party colleagues guessing about his role model in politics: Former prime minister V.P. Singh or Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal?

The debate has started, though in whispers, in the context of what many see as his attempt to virtually troll Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What had begun in 2016, with his “earthquake” speech in the Lok Sabha and his subsequent references to alleged entries of payment in the Sahara diaries, has now become a routine affair, with Gandhi levelling a host of allegations against Modi.

What has, however, made a section of Congressmen uneasy is the manner in which their party president has launched personalised, no-holds-barred attacks on the prime minister.

Alleging a scam in the Rafale fighter jet deal, Gandhi has repeatedly described the prime minister as a “chor (thief)” and demanded the registration of an FIR against him.

On Thursday, he called him “the poster boy of Pakistan” who he said had allowed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to come to Pathankot (post-terror strike) and gone to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter’s wedding.

“Dear PM, Have you no shame at all? YOU stole 30,000 Cr and gave it to your friend Anil,” the Congress president said in a tweet earlier. “He’s an incompetent man who listens to nobody,” he said in another tweet.

“There was a time when great dignity was attached to the post of the Congress president,” a veteran Congressman from Uttar Pradesh told ThePrint.

“What Rahul is doing doesn’t behove the post he holds or the one he aspires for (prime ministership). You can’t call the Prime Minister names. People don’t take kindly to it.”


Also read: Rahul Gandhi believes Pakistan over Indian forces & leaders: BJP responds to Congress attack


V.P. Singh or Kejriwal model?

Some in the Congress party believe that Gandhi has been bullish with his attacks on the PM without a strategy in place.

“His (Rahul’s) role model is VP Singh. He sees scope for himself only after he demolishes the incumbent (PM) by any means,” a Congress leader who was in Sonia Gandhi’s core team told ThePrint. “But there is no deep thinking behind this strategy in terms of public perception or the impact it will have on his own image.”

V.P. Singh, a key member of the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet, had fallen out with the then prime minister and left the government to level a series of allegations about kickbacks in Bofors gun deal. He would flash a paper in public meetings, claiming that it contained the Swiss bank account number in which the alleged kickbacks were deposited.

Another Congress functionary has a different take: “He has to decide whether he wants to position himself as Kejriwal or (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee. If he thinks being aggressive like Kejriwal works, it’s his judgement call.”

An eminent political analyst who has known Gandhi closely told ThePrint that the “culture of wild allegations” was started by the BJP and Modi but the Congress president shouldn’t follow the same model.

“First of all, Modi has a certain level of popularity,” he said on the condition of anonymity. “On the issue of national security, for instance, he enjoys a better level of (public) trust. So, even his wildest allegations get some reception.”

He added that Gandhi’s communication skill is “not great” and he should have just maintained that he was for national consensus and wouldn’t criticise Modi even if the latter did.

“It would have raised Gandhi’s stature. Instead, he has fallen into Modi’s trap by responding to him,” the analyst said. “This is exactly what Modi wanted. Rahul doesn’t have the gut sense of politics or the feel of street politics.”


Also read: A national security election gives Rahul Gandhi the perfect excuse to lose


Carried away by social media?

There is a consensus among Congress leaders, political analysts and observers that Gandhi has got carried away by his increased profile on the social media and is not getting the larger picture.

“His approach is that of a leader contesting students’ union election,” said a former AICC general secretary. “Modi can get away with his style of politics because of his popularity but Rahul as a young leader can’t be so disrespectful and rude while talking about the Prime Minister.”

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari, however, debunked all criticism of the party president: “People in the government have been using intemperate language against Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi and him (Rahul) for years,” he said.

“What about sobriety in Modi? Look at the language he uses against political adversaries. The opposition has to be aggressive, especially in a situation where a substantial section of the media, particularly TV, is controlled by the ruling party.”

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15 Comments Share Your Views

15 COMMENTS

  1. Rahul Gandhi is surrounded by sycophants just like his mother was. They are busy scrounging for crumbs for themselves instead of guiding him properly. Unfortunately, they’ve still not learned from their earlier mistakes. They are responsible for Modi’s rise.

  2. This article is refreshingly different in the sense that it is being critical about the far too aggressive approach employed by Rahul Gandhi against PM. The narrative towards Rahul Gandhi’s approach so far in the media on this subject was – Rahul has discovered himself, coming on his own, found his mojo.
    My feeling is Rahul Gandhi was being brash, even more than the PM and Amit Shah, I thought. How voters would react to this new found approach of Rahul Gandhi, I honestly do not know.

  3. Rahul Gandhi has already ruined his popularity among urban class due to his constant chant PM as Chowkidar chores hai. I wonder whether this kind of street urchin language is used any where in world for a PM. He has been misled and made a vagabond urchin who does not practice any decency and this I am sure would be the major reason for his defeat in the elections. It is not his sycophants going to lose but his dream to become PM would be shattered. There are many more decent and knowledgeable members in his party who more are dignified and worthy to become PM. What qualities of PM does Raga possess? It is advised the Raga should first learn some decency in public life to dream of becoming PM of the country

  4. The minders of Shri Rahul Gandhi, which would include worthies like Divya Spandana, Sanjay Jha etc have realised that the man does not have substance nor any achievement beyond the inherited family name. Hence the guidance that he should indulge in hurling abuses, winking in the parliament etc rather than presenting an alternative vision for the country.

  5. Initially Rahul seems to have maintained some dignity while in public against PM and his party leaders. However, some where he seems to have changed the track because he was almost written off and reduced as Pappu and Modi and others started using dregatory language against his mother and family members. However, though I don’t support any one using foul language, he seems to paying back the same coin though it doesn’t suit him as compared whose attack itself is full of anger. Forget about Rahul, how Modi used foul language against his predecessor Dr Singh and went on to say he is experienced taking bath with rain coat. The fact is considering the office held by Modi he should have maintained dignity and set an example, but due to his lack of experience of holding any responsible position in centre, he still communicate the way he was doing as CM of Gujarat. One wish both Modi and Rahul realise that they are doing great harm to the generation next.

  6. Being Chief of a national party this guy neither has Statesmanship nor Stewardship. Every time he goes on not so intelligent anti Modi tirade he is promoting Modi.

  7. No Prime Minister of India has ever spent so much time attacking the opposition party and it’s leaders. The Prime Minister should speak in a better Language than a party Leader. Modi is still speaking like a party Leader and yet to understand that his the Prime Minister

  8. I totally agree with Anil’s views. Rahul Gandhi’s comments are ten times more civilized than Modi’s. When Modi is behaving like a street bully there is no other choice.

  9. Times have changed, there is a different – not necessarily better – kind of politics at work today. Shri Rahul Gandhi is now as old as Mrs Gandhi was when she first became PM. It is to her that he should turn occasionally for inspiration. How would she have conducted herself, both in power and in adversity.

  10. Mr Singh – a question you and editors. Why is that we don’t ask the same set of questions when Modi/Shah and the other from the Saffron brigade abuse people alive and dead – without any concern for basic civic values? Why is Rahul a troll when Modi has been abusing him and his family from the time immemorial. Even after becoming the PM, he has not stopped abusing Rahul’s family and everyone else in the country. Why does he insist on saying that no one did anything in the country during the 70+ years that have gone by. Why do we need to waste, space, energy and everything that goes with it to project one man as the God or God’s reincarnation and everyone else a bunch of jokers – by quoting sources? May I request you and your editors to reflect on such issues before you start your own share of name calling – troll in this case? It seems to be becoming a habit in the ‘New India’ that one party can abuse others and the others cannot even open their mouth without being judged on a completely different yardstick or being called the anti-nationals? I am not sure, if you are giving unasked for free-advice to Rahul and rest of us or you are also party to encouraging double standards in public discourse! If it is the first, should it not be given to Rahul personally? If not, we must bring everyone else’s trolling behaviour to discuss the issue of civility in public discourse without name calling in the name of debate.

    • You need to read Raga’s childish attempts at machismo…..wild, unsubstantiated allegations and gutter level language penned on Raga’s behalf by his dimwit handlers.

      Kejriwal quickly realised people are not receptive to such brazen lies and intemperate language against the PM.

      In contrast the PM is a picture of sobriety.

      • Perfectly correct. Raga has got away with some very bad, cheap and and ‘hitting below the belt’ language, to say nothing of total falsehoods and innuendos masqueraded as “Evidence”.. ‘The difference lies in the ‘personalised’ attacks to demean not only Modi but the PM’s chair and stature. And Raga is easily being misled by the claps and applause of his sycophants and acclaim in ‘some’ sections of the media into believing that only THIS is the way to the PM’s chair. This has unfortunately led even to some very senior and ‘otherwise’ sober leaders in his entourage to imitate him in competition with each other. Raga is steadily LOSING votes, which were paltry, even to start with. .

        • In my ideal world, I would prefer to stay quiet once I know that reason is not the basis for arguments.

          Mr Modi has probably demeaned the position of responsibility as many times as Rahul has chosen his words carelessly. My argument above is simple – we must judge all people with the same yardstick, if we want civility in public discourse. Modi has made no effort to do that.

          I am amused when Modi insists that the country has not progressed for 70 years and he holds only one family responsible for that. it is at best an insulting lie – not even a half truth.

          At the same time, I am amazed with the argument that if Rahul chooses bad language, Modi has a right to do that. one wrong can not make the other right.

          Modi’s comment on dyslexia was probably one of the worst a PM could make when he or she is among the young of a civilised country in an education institution. It cannot really get worse than that. Did he have courage even make a statement that I should not have done that? Has he ever expressed remorse when people died in DeMon queues? What was that comment about the cross road punishment if I don’t achieve my objective in 50 days. All the stuff around ghar mein ghus key marein ge, 56 inches and rest of the meaning less film dialogue that we hear everyday almost. He has not behaved more than a bully who thinks that no one will open his or her mouth on bad behaviour. Choice of words in public often reflects a person’s mindset and the respect we show for other in a civilised world. I am sure none of us want our children to behave like Modi or Rahul. If that has to happen, we have hold both of them to the same standard. We can not have a situation that a PM can abuse, but the leaders of opposition have just laugh it off and the public clapping.

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