By fulminating against Rajiv, Modi apparently wanted to stifle the ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ chant.
By pitting himself against the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 28 years after his assassination, Narendra Modi may have committed a political error. The anti-Rajiv tirade, on the eve of the last two phases of the ongoing elections, is possibly aimed at concealing the performance of the NDA regime. Many of his supporters too have joined his critics in denouncing him for lowering the overall discourse of the polls with his continuous derogatory remarks as well as the use of depreciatory language not befitting the august office he holds.
Modi may have been provoked by the bhakts to take on the Congress and its leadership in a no-holds barred attack on Rahul Gandhi and his late father, but sensibly the grand old party has not retaliated in similar political idiom. It is unfortunate that the political narrative would fall to such a level.
It was unthinkable to view Modi challenging the Congress to have a debate on Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, for the Delhi elections. The 2019 Parliamentary confrontation is meant to give an account of the government’s report card during the past five years, and not occurrences that happened so far back in time. Should not someone from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh intervene and inform the BJP that the use of such un-parliamentary language against any deceased person was against good taste?
The irreverent attack on Rajiv Gandhi is certainly going to have political ramifications. To begin with, it has woken up a large number of Congress supporters who were so far indifferent to the political developments, and had chosen to remain silent, rather than extend support to the present party leadership on account of their disillusionment. This kind of attack on a former Prime Minister, who was elected to office with over 400 seats, the highest ever, is bound to have sweeping repercussions. What the BJP seems to lose sight of is that form and propriety hold a very important position in public life and therefore to hurl accusations against a late leader, knowing fully that he was in no position to respond, has not gone down well with the people.
The BJP may win the elections of 2019, but it has lost out on its high podium from which it pontificates. What has added to the dirty political discourse is that the allegations were not only unfounded but inaccurate. Modi bhakts may say, that “all is fair in love, war and politics” and the Prime Minister’s diatribe against Rajiv was because the Congress had been painting him as the “Chowkidar Chor Hai”. By fulminating against Rajiv, he apparently wanted to stifle the “Chowkidar Chor Hai” chant. Or was it that he wanted to set a trap for the Congress so that he could rake up the 1984 anti-Sikh riots issue to polarise the voters in the capital and in Punjab?
It is possible that Modi was unaware of the superlative relationship Rajiv Gandhi shared with the RSS, particularly the late Bhaurao Deoras, the younger brother of the then Sarsanghchalak, Balasaheb Deoras. Some of the crucial decisions taken during his term were influenced by Deoras, who also played an important role in breaking open the locks of the Ram Mandir as also initiating the Shilanyas process.
Rajiv Gandhi was an inclusive Prime Minister and carried everyone with him. Yes, like all Prime Ministers he made several mistakes for which he paid heavily both politically as well as personally. The Congress was voted out of power in 1989 but still emerged as the single largest party securing 197 seats. However, acknowledging that the mandate was against his government, Rajiv decided not to stake any claim, allowing a Janata Dal dispensation, headed by V.P. Singh, to be sworn in. This was because he upheld and honoured democratic values.
The digital revolution and the ushering in of the computer era can be definitely attributed to the late Prime Minister, whose many programmes have continued to this day, though under different and varied names. He gave a fresh direction to the country after the brutal assassination of Indira Gandhi, his mother, yet never allowed the nation to deviate from the path enshrined in our Constitution. He never intimidated his rivals nor did he use government agencies to spread any sort of fear despite having such colossal numbers in Parliament.
It is true that his own party has digressed and strayed from his path following practices which he never would have condoned. Today there are leaders in the Congress who would have been made redundant had Rajiv not been blown into bloodied bits by a suicide bomber. The 18 months he spent in the Opposition had made him more discerning and thus this experience helped in evolving him as a mature political leader. He held himself responsible for the loss of the Congress, and at no time did he feel insecure or inadequate to answer questions whether from the public or the media.
The ambush on Rajiv Gandhi, in the middle of elections, has shown deplorable judgement on part of the BJP strategists. It has also diminished the stature of the party. Between us.