Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has developed the knack of putting his party in a fix with his poor articulation of the lines given to him by his speech writers. When everyone was talking about the hard work he has put in during the month long yatra across Uttar Pradesh to revitalise his party in the country’s largest and most populous state, Rahul committed a major political faux pas by accusing the Prime Minister of doing “khoon ki dalali” (cashing in on the soldier’s sacrifices). Many of his party men tried to do damage control thereafter by stating that the vice president had merely asked Narendra Modi and his associates not to politicise the valour and heroics of our brave soldiers and special forces who successfully conducted the surgical strikes to eliminate terrorists in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

However, much harm has already been done by the controversy and the remarks made most casually, in the surcharged atmosphere in the wake of Uri attacks and the war like situation that has consequently followed, could affect the Congress’ chances in the poll bound states, particularly Punjab and Uttarakhand, where virtually every family has at least one member serving in the armed forces. The supreme irony is that the Congress was beginning to improve its prospects in Punjab and its campaign spearhead Captain Amarinder Singh had categorically reposed his total faith in the Army by stating that no one could doubt its credentials and whatever is stated by its officers has to be believed in totality. Captain Amarinder Singh is a war veteran and is also amongst the best chroniclers of the various battles our soldiers have fought.

Thus, loosely stated references to the soldiers and their sacrifices cannot be made especially by those who over a period of time are not very well conversant with our history and events. It is true that Rahul Gandhi belongs to one of the most illustrious families of India and his grandmother Indira Gandhi became a legend after the 1971 war with Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh. But he has a long way to go and must realise the sensitivities that get aroused whenever any mention is made about the soldiers in a context which is uncalled for. In fact, Rahul’s utterances would not have been amplified to this point had his colleagues, who have been sharing their negative opinion over the surgical strikes, restrained themselves. For instance, the Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, who had switched to the Congress from the Shiv Sena, has not as yet acclimatised himself with the Congress culture and continues to give uninformed and irresponsible reactions on various matters. It is obvious that those who should be checking him are themselves oblivious of what the Congress stand should be and echo similar feelings on public platforms, thereby causing immense harm to the party.

The tragedy of the Congress over the past few years has been that it has completely deviated from its own ideology and thinking and has, as a result, provided a handle to the BJP to knock it down when the stakes are high. Congress workers and many of the leaders have been distancing themselves from the high command for permitting this deviation from the established principles. One of the principal reasons for the Congress debacle in the 2014 Parliamentary polls was that it had compromised on its secular credentials and had tilted heavily towards the minorities, thus forcing the majority community to bend in the direction of the BJP. Symbolically also, the party’s leadership was minority centric—Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, A.K. Antony and Ahmed Patel. This perhaps also prompted others to make statements aimed at getting the approval of the supreme quartet.

In addition, a large number of leaders from other parties were encouraged to join the Congress. This happened at the expense of the existing party leaders, who, thereafter, got marginalised. The important positions in the hierarchy and the organisation went to the likes of Sanjay Nirupam, Mohan Prakash, Madhusudan Mistry, Raj Babbar, Shankarsinh Vaghela, Beni Prasad Verma, Rashid Alvi and Imran Masood, while established leaders languished on the sidelines. This deliberate action on the part of the high command was a major contributory factor to the decline of the party that had ruled this country for nearly 60 years. The Rahul factor that has got magnified as the cause for the party’s poor showing was highlighted to shift the focus from the wrongdoings of Sonia Gandhi and her coterie, which had developed vested interests.

The BJP has come to power for the first time on its own steam under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Therefore, it is not going to allow the Congress to easily make a comeback. Such remarks as made by Rahul Gandhi demoralise his own party activists and are totally out of line with the country’s present mood. When an inevitable confrontation with Pakistan is on the cards, India has to stand united. Our armed forces are amongst the finest in the world and need our unconditional support. The nation comes first, much ahead of any party and individuals. Since PM Modi is leading the nation, he has to be backed wholeheartedly. There can be no two opinions on this. Between us.

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