Rahul and the war of words

Rahul Gandhi would by now have realized that the standards opinion leaders, including the media sets for him are way stricter than those applied to the likes of Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal or even Narendra Modi. Is it because he’s the ascendant star in a party experiencing a political low? Or is it part of an increasingly assertive urban elite’s fashionable critique of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty?

It could be either or both, probably both, coupled with a string of electoral reverses the Congress has had in Punjab, UP and Bihar. In contrast, Modi is perceived a winner who thus far has been beyond the firing range of such wanton shooters as Kejriwal. Hazare praised him once but later tried to explain the context to keep a secular image, a consideration that has progressively depleted with his growing proximity to the likes of Baba Ramdev.

The media did slam Hazare for his medieval prescription to enforce prohibition and his tongue-in-cheek query as to how Sharad Pawar got away with just one slap by an intruder? Kejriwal’s equally disdainful and dismissive of his adversaries, using such crass colloquial words for them as “tuchchas.” He escapes scrutiny as a crusader against graft while Salman Khurshid’s lambasted for loosing cool and calling him a “guttersnipe” —which he shouldn’t have as the then minister of law facing charges of irregularities in a trust he runs for the disabled.

But the special most treatment is reserved—either out of deference or fear—for Modi. The criticism at best was muted when he outlandishly attributed data showing Gujarat as under-nourished to the frugal dietary regimen Gujarati women preferred to remain in shape.

The media didn’t also pillory Modi the way it often pillories Rahul when he called Shashi Tharoor’s wife his Rs. 50-crore girlfriend. So much so that the BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi caused more mirth than outrage when he mocked at Tharoor — calling him an “international love guru”— in a rejoinder to the latter’s tweet that his wife was priceless “but you (Modi) need to be able to love someone to understanding that.”

In contrast, Rahul had the entire electronic media questioning his claim — borne out by statistic complied by established agencies – that seven out of ten youth in Punjab took drugs. Ditto for his reference to the Kargil war to illustrate that the Congress backed the BJP on key national issues or that his grandmother Indira Gandhi led the country to victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict.

Quite obviously Rahul needs an electoral win to beat back his detractors. All is valid if you have mass support. Nothing works if people seem to be turning their back on you.

Prime example: Nitin Gadkari. In the BJP’s internal power game, he was pitted against Modi the way Rahul is outside the saffron party.

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