Politics: Indian Style

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi walks up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and interacts with him after his speech, The PM shook Gandhi’s hands but ignored his request to stand. Pics/PTI

It is reported that the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi ended his hour-long sharpest-ever attack on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi from the floor of parliament on July 20. Raking up the Rafale arms deal with France, Rahul Gandhi had reportedly called the PM “not a chowkidar, but a bhagidar” (not a sentinel, but a partner of profiteering industrialists).

Moreover, the question of a secrecy arm’s pact with France became a parallel debate — with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman springing to counter Rahul after he accused her of “lying”.

Then the scenario to follow had surprised every one. After attacking the Indian Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi walked over to the Prime Minister Modi and hugged him. “You can abuse me, you can call me Pappu, but I don’t have a speck of hatred against you.”

We are informed by reports that the point of interest was not the technical details of bilateral pacts with France.  Rahul had personalised his critique, accusing Modi of crony capitalism. And saying, tauntingly, that the PM was “feelng nervous and unable to meet his eyes” as he laid out the charges. After riffing on hate and lynchings, he said how the BJP/RSS had taught him how to be a real “Hindu”.

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Ravi Prakash Verma reportedly welcomed Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s embrace of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the no confidence motion, but said the way Modi spoke in the Lok Sabha was not as per the “dignity of his post”.

“The way in which Congress president Rahul Gandhi embraced Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the no confidence motion was an indicator of good thing.”

Speaking to reporter, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said that the Aam Aadmi Party reportedly lauded Rahul Gandhi’s speech during the no-confidence debate in Parliament and criticised the BJP for making a fuss over the hug the Congress president gave to Prime Minister Narendra Modi   He further added that although his party had differences with Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi on most issues, his speech was excellent and he did a fine job of exposing the Modi government’s failures.

Later, Modi reportedly deployed Rahul’s own words against him. “How could I dare to look into their eyes,” he asked mockingly, alluding to the class gap. “Woh naamdar hain, hum kaamdar hain” (They are people with a ‘name’, we are workers).

He also read out a list of those who had dared to look the Congress high command in the eye and what became of them — from stalwarts of the early decades to President Pranab Mukherjee.  He also quoted former Minister of Congress P Chidambaram from the 1990s, when he had analysed the Congress’s loss of pre-eminence as an effect of power flowing to formerly disempowered strata of society, including the “intermediate castes”.

Modi reportedly rounded it off saying he was both a chowkidar and a bhagidar (sentinel as well as the partner of the poor) and never a “saudagar or thekedar” (those who strike deals and contracts) On Rafale arms deal, he reportedly admonished Rahul in an almost paternalistic tone for bringing disrepute to a defence procurement entered into by two nations. In effect, hinting at his “immaturity”, a frame in which the BJP likes to cast him.

The above scenario is to be considered, in my view, “genuine” politics in which both the ruling party and the opposition have mutual respect for each other. They can argue, oppose and attack on each other in the Parliament for the welfare of the country.

A politician becomes, in my view, a “statesman” if he/she does not oppose for opposition’s sake but supports the opposition’s proposal if it is considered for the greater interests of the country, otherwise the politician becomes an “opportunist”.  One involves in politics for doing good for the people and the country. The politician should not be self-centred or selfish and should think of beyond himself and for the welfare of the people and the country

Let me conclude by referring to two quotes— “We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.” Former US President Barack Obama. The other one what our national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote:

“I sing the song of equality.

I sing of the country

Where fresh joys blossom forth in,

the hearts of men

And budding life shimmers in their faces.

Comrade, nobody is king- in this land

and none a subject.

There is no man here poor and abject

Nor is there any, full of riches and money.”

Barrister Harun ur Rashid, Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva

  • DhakaCourier
  • Vol 35
  • Issue 4

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