By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-02-07 19:15:36
There is no doubt that adversity and a long period away from limelight (which he considers his bapauti or birthright, having been born in India's most famous political family) have made Rahul Gandhi a bitter man. He was never a great orator and his choice of words was always poor, even unwise. Who doesn't remember the "chowkidar chor hai" chant during the campaign for the 2019 general elections? But now he has crossed all limits of decency and said things which he will definitely regret later for the BJP is not going to allow him the luxury of getting it obliterated from the minds of the people.
What Rahul said about the Prime Minister of India at an election rally in Delhi loses most of its sting if translated in English. He said "Yeh joh Narendra Modi bhashan de raha hai, 6 mahine baad ye ghar se bahar nahi nikal payega. Hindustan ke yuva isko aisa danda marenge, isko samjha denge ki Hindustan ke yuva koh rozgar diye bina ye desh aage nahi badh sakta". Translated into English, this reads like "This Narendra Modi, who is now making speeches, in six months he will not be able to leave his house. The youth of India will beat him with such a danda (stick) that they will show him that this country cannot move ahead without providing jobs to the youth."
What was the Gandhi scion trying to say? In simple words, he was telling the people that since Modi is unable to revive the economy and provide jobs, the youth of India will reject him after 6 months. But he chose such words that gave a hugely disparaging meaning to the thought and showed him in poor light. If Gandhi wishes to encash the goodwill of his family name, he has to behave like a Nehru-Gandhi. He doesn't have to study anyone else but his own grandfather Pandit Nehru whose speeches are great examples of how leaders should speak.
But can we blame Rahul Gandhi alone? The very next day, in the parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was guilty of making an equally disparaging remark about Rahul Gandhi. While the Prime Minister was speaking in parliament and made an observation about Rahul's "danda" remark, Rahul Gandhi appeared to be attempting to say something. But before he could, the Prime Minister remarked: "I have been speaking for 30-40 minutes but it took this long for the current to reach. Bahut se tubelight aise hi hotey hai".
Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India. He was speaking in the august legislature of the country. Was there any need for him to make such a remark? Earlier too, the Prime Minister has compared Rahul Gandhi to someone stricken with cerebral palsy by asking an innovator at a conference whether her gadget would help a mother of a 45-year-old child. Agreed that there is no love lost between Modi and the Gandhi scion (and politically there should not be, as they are at the extreme opposite ends of the political spectrum in India). But the battle should be fought politically. Making disparaging personal remarks about each other shows both of them in poor light. One thinks that the time has come to draw up a code for politicians that would prescribe that what is unparliamentary inside the House is equally so outside it too. A minimum level of decency should be maintained by all political leaders. Is it too much to ask of them?