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    OpinionsIs Rahul Dividing India To Rule? - II

    Is Rahul Dividing India To Rule? – II



    This is the theme on which Rahul Gandhi and his think-tank may be working on a slowburner. Its impact may be felt in the months to come.

    Rahul Gandhi and his partymen were never much interested in the building of the Ram temple. As the BJP's poor showing in the polls in Uttar Pradesh has indicated, the Hindus in general love their Lord Ram but are not too enamoured of voting for a party that seeks to draw any political mileage from the temple construction.

    The BJP and its allies won only 36 seats in the Lok Sabha elections in UP in 2024, much lower than its tally of 71 in 2019. Rahul Gandhi has not visited the Ayodhya temple even once and this helped him establish his secular credentials among Muslims.

    The crafty politician that Rahul has become, he displayed two pictures in the Lok Sabha on July 1. He displayed a picture of Lord Shiva and not of Lord Ram and I believe it was a deliberate and well thought move.

    Lord Shiva and Lord Ram are revered by all Hindus but Shiva even more so among the scheduled castes and OBCs. It was Rahul's clever signalling to make a nuanced attempt of equating himself as the one who is with the Shaivites, the followers of Shiva. It was also his attempt to woo to the temple town of Kashi, the holy abode of Lord Shiva, that has sent Narendra Modi for the third time to the Lok

    Sabha but with a reduced margin.

    The other picture that he displayed was of Guru Nanak Devji. It was like a thanksgiving to the Sikhs who voted massively in favour of the Congress in .

    In his shrewd style, Rahul Gandhi has done well by shifting the focus away from Lord Ram to the other popular deity of the Hindu faith. By displaying the picture of Lord Shiva, he has sent a message to all those who accuse him of being pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu. He wants to be seen as a Hindu who may not be a Ram bhakt, but is a Shiv bhakt. Here he has taken a leaf out of Mamata Banerjee who likes to portray herself as a Durga devotee.

    In not holding the placard of Lord Ram, he has reassured his Muslim supporters that he is a different kind of Hindu. Holding Ram's picture would not have gone down well with his Muslim followership, that seems to be on the rise in all states except West Bengal.

    Dividing Indians between North and South Indians: In 2019, Rahul Gandhi was elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala. He had lost the Lok Sabha election in Amethi in 2019 to Smriti Irani and would frequently visit his constituency in Kerala. In February 2021, Rahul created the North-South divide by a comparison of the quality of electorate in India's geographically opposite parts.

    In his 15 years of being an MP from the North, Rahul said he was used to a different kind of and that he found the politics in South very refreshing as people in South were interested in ‘issues, and not just superficially but going into detail of all issues'.

    Rahul's comments were seen as some kind of indictment to the people of North India as if they were lacking in intellectual capacity as compared to their southern counterparts.

    This led to a sharp attack from the BJP and Modi criticised the remarks in Puducherry, attacking the Congress party for its ‘divide, lie and rule' statements'.

    Rahul Gandhi's theory that called for conducting wealth surveys to assess the gap between the haves and have-nots didn't incite fear among the rich and the middle class but it did create excitement among the have-nots.

    His promise of sending Rs 8,500 into the bank accounts of poor women every month in a jiffy (‘khata-khat') sent joyous ripples among the poor. There have been videos in social media of women flocking to Congress offices with the so-called certificates issued by party leaders that promised immediate release of money into their bank accounts. While the veracity of these videos is not established, there is a consensus that the poor, especially in Uttar Pradesh, voted in favour of INDIA bloc, partly impressed by the promise of ‘khata-khat' money.

    The elections in some parts of the Hindi heartland, like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, saw significant purchase for this poor versus non-poor divide. The Modi government's achievements of building houses and toilets for the poor and bringing tap water to most households didn't evoke sufficient traction to neutralise the ‘khata-khat' narrative.

    Rahul Gandhi has tried recently to create a rich versus poor divide among students in relation to the paper leak controversy surrounding NEET. He claimed, without substantive argument, that NEET favoured rich candidates and was skewed against candidates who came from underprivileged backgrounds. How paper leakage is linked to the class status of students is something that beats common sense!

    Dividing businessmen between Ambani-Adani and the rest: Rahul Gandhi has a special liking for the Ambani and Adani empires. He has made references to them in almost every public address.

    I quote from NDTV on did Rahul Gandhi said about Anil Ambani in 2019:

    Anil Ambani, who was chosen by Rafale manufacturer Dassault for an offset contract in the Rafale deal, has never made a plane in his life, Rahul Gandhi said, and added ‘I guarantee Anil Ambani won't even be able to make a paper plane'.

    It is a well-known fact that many Indian houses have in the past formed JVs with foreign companies in business sectors where the Indian partners had no expertise. But it didn't stand in their way of achieving success in their later years.

    Similarly, many Indian businessmen have made it very big during the non-NDA regimes. It is also a matter of fact that many businesses thrive due to government patronage and support. However, Rahul Gandhi believes that the Ambanis and Adanis are the only ones that deserve his condemnation.

    His tirade has remained confined to the Ambani and Adani groups. Is it because their promoters have Gujarati roots? Why has Gandhi not spoken against a digital learning platform that is mired in financial controversies? Is it because its founder is from Kerala?

    The Congress party received Rs 1,351 crores (Rs 13.51 billion) by way of electoral bonds and a significant contribution has come from a business house that is beset with environmental controversies. Why is Rahul Gandhi silent about the general lack of ethics and corporate governance in the Indian corporate sector? Why is he only against two Gujarati-owned business houses?

    Rahul Gandhi has found a new lease of life in 2024 by winning 99 seats in the Lok Sabha. The Pappu (the naïve one) tag is now confined to the dustbin of history and he looks set to lead the Opposition charge on the government.

    The question that I am asking is this: Is it is necessary to play divisive politics to succeed in the next general elections?

    I realise that it is the job of the Opposition to put the government on the mat but must not the Leader of the Opposition remain bipartisan on at least some issues?

    We are a nation of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' ethos. The kisans/farmers need farm reforms and our fauj needs several structural changes. The Indian Army must become leaner, and 53% ov its annual budget shouldn't get exhausted in salaries and pensions alone. We need to have a national consensus on dealing with aggressive and difficult neighbours like China and Pakistan.

    The farmers must be weaned away from disproportionate reliance of wheat and rice cultivation. We need to have a consensus on farming strategies, land reforms, more and more economic reforms. We need more debates on privatisation of PSUs and on PLI schemes for self-reliant Bharat in electronic manufacturing.

    Similarly, we need to have some kind of parliamentary decorum where bills are not passed without debates. We need very few walkouts by the Opposition and even fewer expulsion of MPs by the Speaker/Chairman.

    The elections are over and the mandate is for Narendra D Modi to lead India in the best traditions of participative democracy. He has come back to power with a shrunken mandate. At the same time the people of India have not asked Rahul Gandhi to be at the helm yet. They may be testing his calibre as Leader of the Opposition first.

    The onus is also on the LoP to put an end to his divisive campaigns and show his positive side to the Indian public.

    We need both the government and the Opposition to rise and shine.



    Dr Sudhir Bisht, author and
    columnist, writes from New Delhi.




    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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