Does Rahul Gandhi have a political strategy?
- Rahul Gandhi approached Modi to write off farmer's loans.
- It is a meaningless move, writes TS Sudhir.
- As Modi is hardly likely to agree.
The BJP and the BJP-friendly media called Rahul's call to read his lips a ``balloon''.
To convey that while the threat to expose the PM's corruption may look colourful and even soar in the sky for a bit, in the end, will fizzle out.
It did on Friday morning. When Rahul Gandhi was the leading light of the Congress delegation that met the Prime Minister to ask him to write off the loans given to farmers.
It was a meaningless move given that the PM's party is also a major political player in Uttar Pradesh and he is hardly likely to agree to a demand made by a rival party ahead of crucial assembly elections.
The optics ruined all that Rahul had earned in the preceding 48 hours.
To meet the man who Rahul accused of ``personal corruption'' over an issue which could have easily waited for a few days or a week suggested there was more than what met the eye. Rahul did not speak about causing an earthquake after that.
The tremors of the PM-Rahul meeting were felt in the opposition camp. The SP, BSP and NCP cried off the march to Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee.
In one stroke, the much-talked about opposition unity had come apart. SP and BSP were particularly miffed that the Congress, a relatively minor player in UP, was trying to act oversmart in their political akhada.
Strange considering the Congress also is negotiating an electoral alliance with the SP.
Modi also proved himself to be a better politician than Rahul by agreeing to meet the Congress delegation. He knew it will have the effect of sowing doubts in the minds of different opposition parties.
Suddenly the whispers of ``Pappu does it again'' are beginning to acquire chorus-like decibel levels.
It is obvious the Congress scion is no master of strategy. Even in the atmosphere of tu tu main main, an impression had been made that the opposition had managed to push the treasury benches on to the back foot. The fact that the ordinary people were suffering on the streets gave the opposition the surround sound and outside support.
That it was not able to take the fight to any kind of logical conclusion was a terrible strategy.
Ideally, the opposition should have debated the issue in the House. That it kept insisting on the PM's presence made it appear that it was not itself keen to discuss the issue.
Parliament, with its facility for live telecast, was an excellent opportunity to make their voice heard across the country. Instead, the Congress and supporting parties reduced it to meaningless bluster that achieved nothing besides wasting precious taxpayer's money.
What happens from now on will throw light on what happened during that meeting, beyond discussing about farmers. The comment of the PM to the Congress delegation that they should meet regularly, only raises eyebrows.
If Rahul Gandhi does not soon reveal what his seismic threat meant, he will lose face. Unless he has taken a leaf out of VP Singh's book.
In the late 80s, VP Singh, the then rival to Rajiv Gandhi would play mind games by constantly claiming that he had the bank account number into which the Bofors bribes were paid, written on a piece of paper kept in his pocket.
Rahul, it would seem, is trying to do to Modi, what VP Singh did to his late father.
The Parliament fiasco is not the only issue on which Rahul Gandhi has not come out smelling of roses. On Saturday, he flew to Chennai to call on the ailing DMK supremo M Karunanidhi who is once again admitted to Kauvery Hospital.
This comes after the DMK making its displeasure obvious that while Rahul found the time to visit Chennai for Jayalalithaa, he gave his ally Karunanidhi the cold shoulder. Rahul's attempt so far was to woo the AIADMK, but given that a Sasikala-led AIADMK may give the Stalin-led DMK the political edge, the Congress vice-president may be trying to do a balancing act. And everyone knows what happens to those who keep their feet in two boats.