Packaging Sans Substance
Rahul Gandhi exposed in the first open interview
Amba Charan Vashishth
The much hyped and much publicised “interview of 2014” by the Times Now Chief Editor Arnab Goswami has turned out to be a damp squib. Perhaps it was part of the efforts of the Congress Party to refurbish Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s image for the coming Lok Sabha elections. It would have been much better if Rahul had not spoken on the channel. It has failed to present achieve its purpose. Impression of him in the minds of the educated viewership or readership which the Times Now or The Times of India commands has not gone up, but taken a beating. He has come out as the most evasive leader beating about the bush to direct questions which vied for direct answers. In fact, he has hardly answered a couple of questions directly. He appeared either to be self-contradictory or ill-informed on many issues. His stock reply on most of the questions was “empowerment” of women, youth, democracy and system, villages etc.—a dream he could not realise during the last 10 years when he occupied the centre stage to motivate and influence the decision-making mechanism of the Congress Party and the UPA government led by it. For the last about 60 years, there had been a Congress government or the ones supported by it at the Centre led by his illustrious great grandfather Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Smt Indira Gandhi, father Rajiv Gandhi and now for the last decade with Dr Manmohan Singh working under the direction and motivation of his mother Smt Sonia Gandhi and, occasionally, by Rahul’s diktats on a few issues. It, therefore, amounts to a confession by Rahul that during all these years his Congress Party had failed on all these “empowerment” accounts.
An opportunity lost
Rahul Gandhi did get a good opportunity and opening on the Times Now channel to air his views which were widely reported in the sister concern the daily The Times of India. But he failed to gain by it.
To most of the specific questions he has stock answers. He avoids telling in so many words the question that Rahul is “avoiding a direct face-off with Narendra Modi”, repeated in the next question, he harps “And, after my grandmother died, I saw my father in constant combat with the system and then I saw him die”.
When questioned about Modi calling him “Shahzada”, he dilates, “What Rahul Gandhi and millions of youngsters in this country want to change is the way the system in this country works. Rahul Gandhi wants to empower the women, wants to unleash the power of these women”. Is it an answer?
Numerous times while giving answers he uses the words empowering women, empowering democracy, empowering youth, empowering people, RTI while these words had no relevance to the question.
Rahul and Congress differ
He is in favour of bringing political parties under RTI but his own party is opposed to the idea. It wants RTI to be suitably amended. Rahul thrives with words “It’s my personal opinion”, which instantly becomes party and government’s policy. Take the case of the ordinance designed to upset the Supreme Court verdict which disqualified MPs and MLAs from their membership when they were convicted. This is the Ordinance which was sent by Manmohan government to the President for approval after the Congress Core Group headed by his mother approved it. Further, the ordinance route was adopted only after the UPA government failed to get the Bill with similar intentions through in Parliament. Incidentally, Rahul is an MP. Did he not go through the Bill or the contents of the Ordinance? Why did it occur suddenly to him only after a week when the President appeared a little reluctant to sign on the dotted lines?
He (and his mother) has not opened his mouth on concrete allegations of corruption and malpractices at the hands of Himachal chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his Congress MP wife Pratibha Singh. The action taken in the 2G, CWG, Coalgate and other scams stands testimony to the wide gap between what is Rahul’s “personal view” and what his Congress Party and its government does.
Gujarat and anti-Sikh riots
On 1984 anti-Sikh and 2002 Gujarat riots Rahul displays utter lack of knowledge. To a question, how Modi was responsible, Rahul avers: “He was CM when Gujarat happened (sic)”. He adds, “Mr. Modi was incharge of Gujarat at that point”. But he forgets that if Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister in Gujarat in 2002, his father Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister when more than 4,000 innocent Sikhs were butchered in the aftermath of the unfortunate killing of Smt Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh security men. Further, it is significant to note that anti-Sikh riots took place only in Congress-ruled States and nowhere else. Rajiv Gandhi justified the pogrom saying “when a big tree falls, the earth below was bound to shake”. Narendra Modi never said anything like that. On the other hand, only about 2,000 deaths (including those of Hindus) were reported in Gujarat. Dozens of cases have been taken to courts and justice done to the bereaved families. But this is not true about anti-Sikh riots who too are a minority like any other. Sikhs are still running from pillar to post in search of justice. Surprisingly, when court monitored SITs were constituted to investigate Gujarat riots, no such favour was shown to Sikhs.
In reply to a question why didn’t he speak up earlier on 2G and Coalgate, Rahul says, “I report to the PM…Whenever I felt about the issues I made it clear to him”. But contrast his bombshell declaring the UPA ordinance as a “non-sense” which should be thrown into a waste paper. Why didn’t he speak to PM then?
While he claims his hand and inspiration behind most of the UPA and party decisions, on alliance with Lalu he, surprisingly, washes off his hands shifting onus on “senior leaders” for such decisions. Questioned that he is “the boss”, he says “Our alliance in Bihar is with a party, not an individual”.
The interview has not left the viewers and the readers any wiser about Rahul Gandhi and his vision. To real issues and specific questions he remained as evasive, unclear and diversionary as ever.
“For the first time, the member of the Gandhi family has agreed on the involvement of Congress members in the Anti-Sikh riot. Justice has been denied to Sikh victims even after 30 years.
—Naresh Gujral, MP and leader of Shiromani Akali Dal
“I met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and put forward our demand of a probe by Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The LG is very positive on it. We will discuss the special investigation team formation and its terms in the next cabinet meeting.”
—Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM
“As far as the involvement of the Government is concerned, Rahul Gandhi should only see the report of Mishra Commission, a Commission appointed by the Congress government only.”
—HS Phoolka, Advocate, 1984 riot victims
A massive protest agitation broke out in New Delhi on January 30 over Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Sikh groups including men, women and youth staged a protest demonstration with black flags, banners and tyres outside the AICC office in the national capital, breaking barricades and shouting anti-Congress slogans. The police resorted to water cannon to disperse the frensied mob, as they burnt tyres on the road and broke police barricade. “Some Congressmen were probably involved … There is a legal process through which they have gone through… Some Congressmen have been punished for it,” Rahul Gandhi had told Times Now. The protesters demanded that Congress should reveal the names of partymen who were involved in the riots, apart from seeking resignation of Rahul Gandhi from his present post in the party. They also demanded setting up of SIT for a probe into the massacre.
Anti-Sikh riots (1984)
1. There were more than 8,000 deaths, including 3,000 in Delhi. About 157 soldiers were killed.
2. Most of the cases were closed. No SIT has been formed to probe till date. People have been demanding an SIT probe for the last 30 years.
3. Many riots happen under the Congress rule after 1984. Punjab is suffering even after 15 years of the riots and no person has yet been held accountable for the “genocide” that killed so many people.
4. Hardly anyone has been punished so far.
5. No leader punished yet. The political leaders who openly led the mob were rewarded and given high positions.
6. Delayed in calling the Army, delayed in issuing shoot-at-sight orders and being a party to a grand design to teach a lesson to the Sikhs.
7. Assassination of Indira Gandhi was the instigating cause.
Post-Godhra riots (2002)
1.A total of 1,044 deaths and 223 people reported missing.
2. All the cases which were closed by the Police, were reopened and reinvestigated by the SIT.
3. Supreme Court and SIT have given clean chit to Narendra Modi and rejected the recent petition seeking prosecution of Modi.
4. There has been no riot in Gujarat during the last 12 years under Modi.
5. A total of 131 persons have been awarded life imprisonment, 10 have been awarded death sentence and one minister has been sentenced to 28 years imprisonment.
6. Law and order review meetings were held by Modi and all the things was done to control the situation. The Army was called on time to contain the communal violence.
7. Brutal burning of the 57 karsevaks was the reason for reaction.