Rahul Strategy Is Clear: Deflect Media Attention From The National Herald Case

Rahul Strategy Is Clear: Deflect Media Attention From The National Herald Case

Ever since the National Herald case exploded in the faces of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul – putting the dynasty in the direct line of fire for the first time after the Bofors scandal of the 1980s – one thing has become obvious: the Congress will put protection of the Dynasty’s interests above that of the party or the country.

While the immediate attempt to disrupt parliament over the Herald issue was soon put aside as it did not go down well with the public, the new strategy is crystal clear: it will now rake up all kinds of minor issues in order to deflect media attention from the National Herald case.

Hence the unseemly war between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress over the unfortunate death of a child around the time of the railway demolitions of encroachments in Delhi’s Shukur Basti. Both parties are championing the cause of the encroachers and even taking potshots at each other. And this, even though there is evidence that the child’s death may have happened well before the demolitions on Sunday.

Rahul Gandhi blamed the Delhi government and the centre for it, and promised the displaced slum-dwellers he would fight on their behalf, while AAP has returned fire by calling Rahul childish for wrongly blaming the state government for it.

Another complex war is on here: while Rahul’s fight is about the Herald case, he also has to fight AAP as both parties are fighting for the same left-of-centre space. If AAP grows, it will be at the cost of the Congress, not the BJP.

In another line of attack, the Congress party blasted the centre for allegedly insulting the Kerala Chief Minister by not inviting him to a function to honour former CM R Sankar – a function in which the Prime Minister is to attend. The late Ezhava leader, apart from being CM of Kerala between 1962-64, was also general secretary of the Sree Narayana Guru Paripalana Yogam, an organisation that is being wooed by the BJP  for political support in next year’s Kerala assembly elections.

In a third salvo, Rahul Gandhi also claimed that RSS workers had stopped him from visiting a temple in Assam.

While one can wonder how Rahul suddenly developed an interest in Hindu temples – he visited Kedarnath some months ago – the political logic is transparent. After being dubbed as pro-minorities and anti-Hindu, the Congress is trying to rebuild bridges to an estranged Hindu vote after the 2014 drubbing at the hands of Modi.

But the more important reason for these aggressive postures is simply the National Herald case. After the failure of the Gandhis to claim vendetta for what is essentially a court decision asking them to stand trial, the Congress dynast sees anti-BJP aggression as vital to prove his point of vendetta – and also to deflect attention away from the scam.

So one should expect more grand-standing from the Congress. Whether this stratagem will work or not is debatable, but it all depends on the government’s counter-strategy. If it is cowed down by this aggression and offers an olive branch to the Congress just to get some key legislation passed, it will be politically in retreat for the rest of its five-year term.

The government has to meet this political manoeuvre politically, and not by compromise. Sacrificing its political interests just to get a few bills passed will be suicidal in the long-run.

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