The SC dismissal of the Rafale plea has given the BJP fresh ammunition to target the party
Now that the Rafale jets have made their way to India and their indispensability has been proven to our forces, the Supreme Court was expected to dismiss a review petition against their acquisition. Politically though, it gave the BJP, weather-beaten by the latest round of Assembly results, some ammunition to beat the Congress with all over again. The latter was in for some embarrassment, not because its poll plank on the questionable nature of the Rafale deal was battered electorally, but because the court warned the party’s former chief Rahul Gandhi for justifying his “chowkidar chor hai” jibe, citing court observations that were never made. While the court exempted him from a contempt case, the BJP used the severity of its warning to demand a national apology from the Gandhi scion for insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The “chowkidar chor hai” slogan wasn’t just in bad taste but gave the BJP an opportunity to crest public opinion by taking a high moral ground. It, in fact, turned the slogan on its head to make its most effective brand slogan of “Main bhi chowkidaar.” The Congress, therefore, will have no manoeuvering space in its self-defence now and the BJP won’t let go of a chance of cornering Rahul on this. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad lost no time in reminding that not only did Rahul call the Prime Minister a thief, he lied about the former French Prime Minister’s statements and misquoted the Supreme Court.
Without a cogent defence on the sliding economy and other pressing issues, the BJP is expected to use the Rafale ruling to animate much of the discussions in Parliament. The Congress may want to shy away from being reminded about its follies but cannot walk away from them either, considering that Rahul continued with the Rafale bandwagon in the run-up to the Maharashtra polls. He may be now demanding a JPC probe and the Congress, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, may keenly vet the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor-General) report on Rafale but there’s no political capital to be made. Already facing a crisis of confidence, the Congress now needs to be careful in choosing its target and subject. It needs to work on specifics and choose issues that impact everyday life rather than blustering against the monolithic consistency of Modi. It has an existing grassroot matrix to revive its local presence in States first, championing local issues. That seems to be working. Anti-Congressism is now a convenient excuse for everybody and the party must now think whether it really wants to be an excuse in Indian politics or be something else.
Friday, 15 November 2019 | Pioneer
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