Indira Gandhi’s 98th birth anniversary, over thirty years after her assassination, was marked not by her legacy as a prime minister, but by her grandson’s loud stance against India’s current PM Narendra Modi.
Was it an emotional moment? A moment of political opportunism? Just plain baiting? The timing was apt – Rahul Gandhi is as of yet still Congress vice president, but after last year’s loss, his position of power has faltered immensely.
Following BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s allegations that he claimed to be a UK national before company law authorities in the England, Rahul stated: “They are using their chamchas to throw dirt at me. I challenge the Prime Minister – show me your 56-inch chest and use all the agencies available with the government to probe me for six months. And lock me up if I am found guilty.”
“Since childhood,” Rahul continued as his mother, Sonia Gandhi, looked on: “I have been witnessing the RSS and their cronies attacking my grandmother, my parents, and now me. I am not scared of them. There is not a shred of truth in all the dirt they are throwing at me. Mr Modi, you are not in the Opposition now, you are in the government. Why don’t you use your resources to investigate me?”
Congress Mounting an Attack
His speech continued in an attack on Modi’s party, the right-wing BJP. “On the one hand, there is the RSS and on the other, radical forces like SIMI,” Rahul continued. “The Congress has always been defending the country from these elements and we will continue to do that. A few fanatics like the RSS give the whole community a bad name.
“Look what happened in Bihar. They say we are only about 40 MPs in the Lok Sabha. I say, if we are such a small force, how did we stop the land bill which was anti-farmer and anti-poor? In Bihar the BJP was hoping for a sweep. A sweep did happen but of the other kind. Let me assure you, the same will happen in the coming elections in the states,” Rahul vowed.
According to the Elections.in page, the RJD won the majority of seats, alongside the JD(U), with the BJP in third place as opposition.
Sonia Gandhi accused the BJP of following a “communal agenda”. “The ideology at work shuns the pursuit of secularism, tolerance, inclusion and equality,” she said. “Spokespersons of its agenda make blatantly partisan appeals to obtain votes. The RSS pits one person against another. That is RSS. They are giving a bad name to all of us. Our job is to bring together people who believe in each other.”
The RSS has often been criticised of being an extremist right-wing group, and a paramilitary organization, such as in Eric Margolis’ book “War at the Top of the World”, and the 1950’s publication “The RSS: Militant Hinduism”.
Aiming to Conflagrate
Rahul’s move this month was in an effort to introduce a challenge for the BJP, and PM Modi to respond to before the planned parliament session next week. It also places Rahul on a higher moral field, as he claims himself superior in honesty and integrity, as well as loyalty to the Indian people compared to Modi, the BJP and the RSS. But the question is – will this attempt to create a situation pay off, or simply falter? Stay tuned to Divya Bhaskar for more India news, as the situation develops.