Real Impact of Rahul Gandhi's Speech

Mala Jay

Rahul Gandhi touched a raw nerve in the psyche of the BJP-RSS. He found Narendra Modi's weak point and deliberately pricked it with a sharp needle. 

In his speech during the no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha on Friday, the Congress president deliberately departed from convention and delivered what can only be described as stellar performance that nobody had expected and very few knew he was capable of. 

It was not a routine political speech.  It was psychological warfare at its best. And it worked. 

He got the reaction he was looking for – for a brief moment the Prime Minister’s face lost its composure and he did not know where to look.  The cameras recorded the expression for eternity and Rahul was quick to follow up with another punch – “You cannot look me in the eye”, he said.

It took the Treasury benches several seconds to realize the impact. They were rattled and tongue-tied. Then came the howl of protest from the back-benchers and the Ministers in the front rows. But it was too late to protect their great leader from the fiercest verbal attack in the 50 months of his tenure as prime minister.

The core part of Rahul Gandhi’s speech was not about corruption, atrocities and unemployment – although they too were hard-hitting and impactful. It was about the Sangh ideology, the socially divisive actions of the RSS front organisations and the BJP’s communal agenda. 

It came towards the end of his extraordinary presentation, which had already provoked indignation and loud interruptions and had even led to a brief adjournment. He actually announced that he was about to say something special - “This is an important part of my speech. It is interesting. You will like it. You will enjoy this one”.

He said: “The Prime Minister and the President of the BJP are two very different types of politicians. They are not like any of us. They are different than all of us.

“The difference between all of us and the Prime Minister and the President of the BJP is whereas we are okay to lose power, we can see ourselves being in power and out of power, for reasons that everybody knows here, the Prime Minister and the President of the BJP can simply not afford to lose power because the moment they lose power other processes will start against them.

“So, the Prime Minister and the President of the BJP act out of fear. This fear generates anger.

“It is this anger that the whole of India is feeling. It is this anger that is being transmitted down India, that is attempting to crush every voice in India. That is the truth. …”

He kept telling BJP member (who by now were uncontrollable in their rage and fury) - Don’t be afraid of the truth, darriye mat.  Try to understand what I am saying, matlab samajiye. In my heart I have no hatred toward the Pradhan Mantri. It is he who has hatred for me and my party and my family. 

And I want to thank him. It is because of his hatred that I have learnt what my party Congress party stands for. I have learnt what India stands for. I have learnt what being a true Hindu means. It means not having ill-feelings towards those who attack you and hate you. Call me anything you want, call me pappu. I will not hate you.  Modiji, yeh aapne sikhaayaa.  Aapko dhanyawad karna chahta hoon.

It was after this that he walked across the Well of the House towards the Prime Minister’s seat and embraced him with a smile. This is the image that is being shown nationally – with various interpretations. 

But the earlier image of the stunned look on Narendra Modi’s face was the more momentous one.  Wwhen he said: “You cannot look me in the eye”. Sure enough the cameras showed Modi looking away, unable to meet the eye of the young man who he had so often derided publically and called a pappu.  David had indeed defeated Goliath.

What Rahul Gandhi had done was to tear the mask. The mask of the RSS claims to nationalism. The mask of Modi’s pretence of sabka saath sabka vikas. The social agenda of the Sangh under the Modi government would lead to spreading fear and hatred amongst the people and tearing the country apart, based on caste and religious differences. 

Indeed, the moment he began his address, Rahul had made his intentions clear – he would go on the attack and mince no words.  But it was the manner in which he went about it that surprised both friend and foe, including the Speaker was perhaps the last to realize that she was presiding over a not only a tongue-lashing of the Prime Minister but also a tearing-up of the core philosophy of the Sangh.

India, said the young Gandhi, was a victim of ‘Jumla strikes’, Turning to TDP’s Jayadev Galla, who had initiated the debate, he said: “In your speech, Mr Galla, I felt a deep sense of anxiety and pain. You are the victim of a 21st Century political weapon”.

He went on: “The weapon is called the Jumla strike. The symptoms of the Jumla strike are the following – First there is a great sense of happiness and excitement. Then there is shock. After that, there is an eight-hour-long speech. The Kisans, youngsters, Dalits, tribals and women of the country are all victims”.

The psychological elements Rahul Gandhi was deploying were already noticeable but none of the 270-strong BJP phalanx could guess where it was leading.  

He went on to criticize the Modi government’s record of generating employment and said it had failed in its mission of producing 2 crore jobs every year. “Sometimes, they tell the youth of the country to sell Pakoras,” he said and that too sounded like what Opposition leaders customarily say.

He said, “The truth is that the government’s labour bureau statistics show that in 2016-17, only four lakh people got employment. In other words, where China gives 50,000 people employment every 24 hours, Modiji has been able to give only 400 Indians the same in the same 24-hour cycle.”

He also referred to the elusive Rs 15 lakh in every bank account holder’s kitty which was an election promise that Modi had made.

Then he referred to ill-advised Demonetization and the hasty implementation of GST across the country, by saying “Maybe the Pradhan Mantri did not know that farmers and poor workers operate in cash. I went to Surat, where traders told me the PM hurt them the most. Today, unemployment is at a seven-year high”.

But he didn’t stop there. He said “GST was brought by Congress party, you opposed it. We wanted a single GST bracket and minimum disruption. Instead, there are five GST rates and I-T officers inside every small trader’s house.”

Just as the Treasury was lulled into complacency thinking it would be a run-of-the-mill speech, Rahul Gandhi turned to the Modi government’s foreign policy. Raking up the June 2017 standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies in the Doklam plateau of Bhutan, Gandhi said that while the Indian Army managed to stand their ground against China, Narendra Modi himself buckled under pressure from the dragon. 

“The Chinese President comes to India and Prime Minister Modi sits on a jhula ride with him in Gujarat. After that, the Chinese President goes back home and sends his troops to Doklam. The men of the Indian Army go to Doklam and bravely stand their ground against China. After the standoff, Modiji went to China with no agenda. But actually, it was China’s agenda. He decides to concede to China’s demands. The soldiers stood their ground, but the Prime Minister could not. He buckled under pressure from China.”

It was a clear sign that the Congress president was going for the jugular – targeting Modi directly.  

He swiftly turned to the Rafale aircraft deal and said the price of each aircraft was mysteriously raised from Rs 520 crore to Rs 1600 crore to benefit a particular businessman. Modi, he said, had shown himself to be “not a chowkidar but a bhagidar”.

By now BJP members were beginning to raise their voices in protest, more to express their loyalty than their outrage. Soon enough the interruptions become more vociferous, with the Speaker having to intervene repeatedly. 

Rahul Gandhi forged ahead above the din by recalling his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who he claimed had assured him there was no secrecy pact between the two governments – contrary to what Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said.

“I asked President Macron and he said there was no such deal between the two governments. The Defence Minister lied to the nation upon the Prime Minister’s instructions”.

Sitharaman rose to her own defence and there was a period of cacophony as the Speaker told her she would get her right of rebuttal later. In between, the House was even adjourned for a few minutes. But what will linger long in the memory is Rahul Gandhi’s exposure of the RSS philosophy of dividing the nation. 

Jul 22, 2018

Mala Jay [email protected]

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