Modi’s popularity on the wane, says Rahul Gandhi
vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday trained guns on the Rashtriya Swayamsewak
Sangh (RSS), accusing the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government of
towing its line on all issues.
“This is Congress, not
RSS, or else if Mohan Bhagwat would have come on the stage and said that the
sky is pitch black, others would have agreed,” the Congress leader said while
speaking at the party's Chintan Shivir held in Mathura.
In his first direct
interaction with the party workers after the Lok Sabha debacle where the
Congress lost from all but two constituencies in Uttar Pradesh - Rae Bareli and
Amethi, Gandhi urged party workers to work in tandem with the ethos and
ideology of the party.
He also admitted
publicly that the Congress was the "number chaar ki party in UP"
(fourth position party in Uttar Pradesh). Citing Apple founder Steve Jobs, the
Gandhi scion said the party should work in a team spirit where ideas of
everyone are heard and the power is not concentrated in some select hands only.
He again assailed the
RSS, saying while it and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were proponents of a
single theory and ideology, the Congress allowed all faiths within the party to
prosper and flourish.
He also slammed Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, saying he had forgotten all promises made to the people
of India during the Lok Sabha polls last year.
Claiming that he was
hearing negative reviews about Modi's performance everywhere he was visiting,
Gandhi said the popularity graph of the prime minister was nose-diving.
“Even we together
cannot bring him the kind of harm he is doing to his image,” Gandhi said while
telling workers that they may attack the prime minister but remember that Modi
himself was doing this job of the opposition brilliantly. He added that very
soon the Congress would take the ground Modi is steadily losing.
Why Rahul Gandhi is
suddenly obsessed with Narendra Modi
Congress VP Rahul
Gandhi has spoken in public three times in the last three days. That is
unusual. However, on each occasion — be it in rural Bihar on the campaign trail
on Saturday, in Delhi, Sunday, at a farmers’ rally, or Monday in the temple
town of Mathura in the politically key state of Uttar Pradesh, his focus has
been the same: an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Bihar’s Champaran, a
Congress rally to mark the 125 birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar turned into a
meet to kickstart the party’s campaign for the assembly elections, Rahul,
surprisingly, did not talk about his allies Nitish Kumar or Lalu Prasad Yadav,
both of whom skipped his function and sent nominees instead. The entire speech
was focused on Modi, his friends and the promises he had not kept.
routine did not change at the Ram Lila Grounds address on Sunday either.
Similarly, on Monday in Mathura he did not attack or for that matter speak
about the ruling Samajwadi Party and the BSP. He focused on the Congress
organization, sending out a message of unity. Even then, he did not forget to
attack the Prime Minister.
So is this obsession
with Modi part of a well-thought out strategy or is he simply taking him on
because he is the face of the BJP and its government? Will this campaign, seen
as negative by many, pay off politically and electorally, now or in the long
run? The Congress thinks it will work.
had been a debate in the Congress during the UPA II years on whether or not to
attack Modi. An influential section in the Congress argued that Modi, the then
chief minister of Gujarat, should not be given too much prominence by being
targetted. They feared attacking him constantly would propel him to the
national, political centre stage and the focus of the debate. Another section
argued that his claims of Gujarat shining should be countered. The debate was
Today, the party is not
that divided. The majority of the leaders agree that Modi should be the target
of the Congress attack. His promises to the electorate should be recalled and
compared with his government’s performance. They argue that his charisma is on
the wane and the Congress should never take its eyes off him.
However, Rahul’s with
his `suit-boot’ line of attack is repeating himself far too often. He is
pursuing a negative campaign. For instance, he forgot to elaborate on what the
Grand Alliance or the Congress would do for the people in Bihar– what would be
its agenda of governance? Congress leaders argue Modi and his government have
not come out with any fresh policy direction for which the Congress had to
present an alternative course.
“They have only messed
up. Be it the economy or foreign policy. So it is obvious that there will be
criticism. They have tried to destroy institutions, erase the memories of
national icons, rewrite history. Where is the positive agenda? So criticism
will be there,” said a senior Congress leader who is also a CWC member.
In fact, the reason for
his attack on Modi was put bluntly by Rahul himself at his Mathura rally. He
said Modi will go down because he has not kept his promises. “But when he will
go down, the Congress should be in a position to occupy that space. This should
be our work,” he said.
As far as Rahul is
concerned, he sees the Congress as the automatic beneficiary of a BJP slide.