Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has done it again. His interview with Professor Ashutosh Varshney of Brown University, USA , has created a flutter, with the Bharatiya Janata Party attacking him for ‘defaming India on the international stage’.
The interview was part of a series of such discussions Rahul Gandhi has had with intellectuals/academicians over the past year to shed his image of ‘Pappu’.
What he said in this interview
The Congress leader, when asked about the ‘’ status given to India by a United States-based organisation, said, "The situation in India is worse: we do not need any stamp regarding that. My microphone was turned off in the Parliament and it was not telecasted on the television."
He attacked the BJP for not having inner-party democracy by claiming that saffron party MPs had ‘confessed’ to him that they cannot have an open discussion. “They say they are told what to say," Rahul claimed.
To note, the Congress party is facing a rebellion from ‘G-23’ leaders, who are demanding that inner-party democracy be restored and elections be held for organisational posts, including that of the party president.
It’s doing more harm than good
In one of the earlier interviews, Rahul accepted that it was , giving the rival political parties ammunition during the poll season. Rahul commits gaffes in these interviews which do more harm than good to the party's fortunes.
The first and foremost thing which the Congress party needs to do is clarify whether whatever Rahul speaks is the party's stand or his own view. He officially doesn’t hold any position in the Congress party, yet. He is just a Member of Parliament.
Rahul claims that India is no longer a democratic country, but the Congress party is participating in state elections. He is one of the party’s star campaigners, he is conducting rallies and seeking votes for the party’s candidates.
If he doesn’t believe that elections will be free and fair, why is the Congress party contesting these polls? It should boycott state elections 2021 and run a people’s movement against the Modi 2.0 government.
Early opinion polls indicate that the BJP may not win more than one of the four states going to polls. The Congress-led UPA is expected to win Tamil Nadu, riding on the DMK bandwagon.
When the party wins elections in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the Indian democracy is working fine. When Rahul says India is no longer a democratic country, does he include these three Congress-ruled states as well?
He claims there is no longer democracy or free speech in the country, but he has been giving interview after interview, including to global audiences, slamming the government. Nobody has stopped him from airing his views; he hasn’t disappeared like Jack Ma of China. Then why does he stretch the truth to claim something that shows the nation in bad light?
His statement that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used to have elections and they used to win is a very irresponsible and childish utterance.
Does Rahul know that had he made such a statement in Libya or Iraq, he might well have been executed by the pardoning rulers there?
Day in and day out, he is allowed to continue with his tirade against the government. But that is the beauty of democracy. It has space for opposing views. However, Rahul continues to deny this when speaking to foreign media or giving pre-scripted interviews.
The Congress leader also said that an election is not just casting a vote, it is about the narrative. He needs to admit that his party is losing the narrative. He also accused the BJP of running a narrative of appeasement politics.
Congress — a party, whose official report on why it lost during the 2014 general elections, listed minority appeasement as one of the main reasons, is accusing the BJP of appeasement. That’s ironic!
PR exercise gone wrong
The exercise is aimed to showcase Rahul Gandhi as an intelligent, intellectual person who is knowledgeable and has strong views/opinions on almost every topic. Since the audience is global, this public relations exercise is being conducted to show Rahul has global acceptance.
Party strategists feel that a global environment, created against the Narendra Modi government, will have a rub-off effect on India as well. But they need to understand that foreign audiences cannot vote.
Any track on Prime Minister Modi is painted as an attack on India, which helps the BJP paint Congress and Rahul as ‘anti-Indian’. With these kinds of interviews and conversation, where Rahul makes these errors, are a trap and the Congress is actually playing into the BJP’s hands.
Rahul should first focus his communication/messaging efforts on the Indian audience, the electorate that actually votes. He needs to convince India first and the world later about his views and ideas. Even people who agree with his viewpoint may not like dirty linen being washed on a global stage.
Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi needs to have a word with Rahul and stop this exercise sooner than later...
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and do not reflect the views of Yahoo.