Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s speech during the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha today turned out be quite a dramatic one, ending with him crossing over to the Treasury benches and hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the target of major part of his tirade. After the hug and the handshake, PM Modi responded by patting Rahul on his back. The young Congress President was then seen winking at his party MPs.
By making it all about the PM, Rahul walked straight into BJP’s trap. The BJP wants the 2019 elections to be about PM Modi versus the rest, and Gandhi scion just made it easier for the party.
Rahul went from making reckless charges on Rafale deal and safety of women in the country to being the self-effacing ‘Pappu’ who wants to convert everyone present in the House to “Congress”, which he claimed stood for an all-encompassing inclusive entity. He projected Congress to be the antithesis of what the PM, the BJP and the RSS stand for. Rahul said he is thankful to the PM, the BJP and the RSS for teaching him the real meaning of Congress, of India and his religion. “Mein unka abhaari hun, inhone mujhe mera dharma sikhaya aur Hindu hone ka matlab sikhaya (I am grateful that they taught me my religion and the meaning of being a Hindu),” he said.
Rahul said he does not hate them or hold any anger towards them, like they do. “You can hate me, call me Pappu or by any other name, I have no problem. I know there is love in all of you and I will take that out; convert all of you to Congress,” he said. It was clear that by projecting a humble, self-deprecatory demeanour, Rahul was trying to present himself as the Mr Nice Guy as against the “obsessed with power” Modi-Amit Shah duo, who cannot afford to lose any election.
However, his attempt does not take away from immaturity of the unsubstantiated charges he hurled at the Modi-led government. He accused defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman of lying on the confidentiality clause of Rafale deal – a charge which she rebutted by laying on table the relevant documents of the original deal signed by UPA defence minister A.K. Anthony. He then made a sweeping statement about how it is the “worst time ever” for women of the country. Even as the other members reminded him of Nirbhaya case in UPA tenure, Rahul failed to substantiate his charge. He then quickly changed tacks and talked about “perception”.
The Congress president also gave a peep into the issues that the Opposition is likely to raise in run-up the 2019 elections. He spoke of PM’s ‘jumlas’, lack of job creation, some corporates being indulged and farmers’ distress. However, he offered the PM a perfect pitch for his reply to the no-confidence motion.