Not just Image Makeover, Rahul needs to do Pragmatic Politics

With the Parliament elections drawing closer, the Congress in general, and Rahul Gandhi in particular must review the overall strategy, in order to control the narrative. To begin with, policy matters and any major declaration and announcement should only be made by party Chief, Mallikarjun Kharge and nobody else. In case, anyone else, including some spokespersons put forward any view point, which is at variance with the overall interests of the party, they should be immediately reprimanded. Rahul Gandhi is perhaps one leader, who over the years has been targeted the most by the BJP. However, it is indeed praiseworthy that he has withstood the criticism and ridicule directed at him, and continues to fight. In doing so, he has been making some strategic errors, which he needs to rectify. Rahul has been taking on the RSS and Gautam Adani each time he gets a forum. The attack on RSS is perhaps promoted by the Left oriented aides, who he has by his side, and who do not either know or understand, that the RSS has come to the aid of both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in the past, and therefore at some future date, can assist the Congress again, if such a situation ever emerges again. It would be far better for the former Congress president to train his guns on the BJP rather than the RSS, and he must understand that both necessarily, may not share the same views and blueprint for going forward. Way back in 1979, the late Sanjay Gandhi, who was assisting his mother in the comeback battle, had met a number of top RSS functionaries.
The RSS was upset over criticism levelled against it by top Janata Party leaders and hence decided to back the Congress. Sanjay made it clear to them that the reason for their cooperation should not be their belief that he was anti-Muslim, which he was not, but since they shared a common hatred for the Communists. This had set the narrative for the second innings of Indira Gandhi. In her first ten years in office, she was influenced by Kashmiri Pandit advisers, who all had left leanings. But after Sanjay made his dislike for the Left known, she adopted a pro-Right stance, which her aide, Makhan Lal Fotedar, also a Kashmiri Pandit, after her son’s death, helped her to cultivate and follow. Similarly, Rajiv Gandhi was helped on multiple occasions by the RSS and had cordial relations with Bhaurao Deoras, younger brother of the then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras. Had he followed Bhaurau’s advice of advancing the 1989 polls, he would have probably retained power. Rahul must make his advisers aware of these facts. He sometimes commits tactical blunders by either attacking the RSS or Veer Sarvarkar, during his Maharashtra visits, thus antagonizing even those who would wish to help the Congress. Another instance he needs to be reminded of is that he had launched a frontal attack on Anil Ambani, when the Centre had signed the Rafael deal and claimed that the industrialist was a beneficiary. In the past few years, he has forgotten about Anil Ambani and instead, started attacking both Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani. Over a period of time, Mukesh Ambani did not figure in his accusations and Adani became the sole target. Incidentally, according a senior leader, Mukesh had conveyed his displeasure by stating that if politically, he (Rahul) wished to attack industrialists in general, that was fine, but making unsubstantiated allegations against individuals, who had helped the party in the past, was unacceptable. Subsequently, Mukesh is no longer in the hit list of the former Congress president, who now only sees, Gautam Adani, since he has been convinced by his aides, many of whom, incidentally had a close association with the younger Ambani, at one stage of their careers.
The question that arises is that is Adani being targeted because of corporate rivalry or because of his proximity to the ruling dispensation. He has also enjoyed a good rapport with many Congress leaders including the late Ahmed Patel, who was not only Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser but also a fund collector for the party in his capacity as the treasurer. There are also reports in public domain, that during the Karnataka Assembly polls, several leaders, received help from many industrialists and it is difficult to establish that Adani was not one of them. The Congress is also a part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) and many of its leaders have good relations with the top Industrialists, whose help they seek from time to time. Recently there were reports that a spokesperson of one of the Congress allies was helped by a top Industrialist in settling the College fees of that person’s close relative, at a prestigious institution abroad. Rahul’s intention may have been pure when he takes on powerful Industrialists. However, he should simultaneously examine the background of many in the Congress who are holding key positions, significant or not so significant. In the election year, it is certainly not the best idea to take on those who he or his friends deem to be guilty of infringing the rules. This needs to be understood that those who have done something wrong, should to be brought to book through proper investigations. Unsubstantiated allegations made at the instance of those who have their own vested interests, were not going to help the party. That is why at least till the elections, Rahul should ensure that the buck stops at Kharge’s desk and he is the primary leader for projecting any view which need to be expressed. The time for pragmatic politics has come.

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