WAHT RAHUL GANDHI COULD NOT DO?

Rahul Gandhi has been missing the point – and the phenomenon is now so famous that it has become a routine stuff in Indian politics of the day.

He could not capitalize on the ‘brand Kalawati’, a grand opening that he had got in Indian politics (with a possible tag of ‘politician with a difference’), and let her be a dragging point for his political career when it started maturing.

He could not come forward and take the country’s leadership in unorthodox ways that the country needed. He had the golden opportunity of taking credit of giving India’s its Lokpal after the massively popular anti-corruption movement of 2011 and thus had the space to present himself as the ‘new type leader of Indian masses’ but he failed to do so, even if he later on, famously tore down his own government’s document to ‘protect’ tainted lawmakers.

No effective movement on ‘Lokpal’ or no effective curb on political corruption later on told us that Rahul failed to translate display of his public aggression and maturity into action. In fact, if we go by the need to set the precedent, even his family needs to come clean on corruption allegations on Robert Vadra, his brother-in-law.

He very eloquently spoke about his hatred of corruption at a FICCI event in December 2013 – “Biggest issue is corruption, it is an unacceptable burden on our people. We must fight corruption.” – while just before that, his party’s government in Maharashtra had ‘summarily rejected the Adarsh Housing Society scam report (report which implicated many political leaders and bureaucrats). While speaking at the FICCI AGM, he was silent on this report.

Questions over Rahul’s intent were being raised as early as 2010 with Congress’ debacle in Bihar assembly polls. And with every such political development where Rahul could have scored a point well above the others, something that he never did, questions on his intent became more and more routine.

Why did Rahul Gandhi took almost a week (Nido Taniam’s incident happened on January 29 last year) to call the Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, to ensure justice for Nido? Nido Taniam, a 20-year old student from Arunachal Pradesh, was beaten fatally by some shopkeepers in the Lajpat Nagar market of Delhi after he reacted to the racist comments by them, and who, later on, succumbed to his injuries.

There was a visible ‘bias’ in Rahul Gandhi’s visits to places like Bhatta Parsaul, Michpur, Maval and now to Bisada and Sunped, the Haryana villages.

Where his party was in power, Rahul Gandhi took some 8 days in visiting the crime scenes, i.e., in Mirchpur in Haryana in April 2010 where Dalits were murdered and tortured and in Maval in Pune in August 2011 where protesting farmers were killed in police firing.

While he was very active in visiting places where he was in political opposition like Bhatta Parsaul in Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh), the symbolic point of 2011 Uttar Pradesh land acquisition protests. During May 7-9, 2011, the village had violent protests leading to death of some policemen and villagers and Rahul, despite prohibitory orders, was in the village on May 11 to protest along with villagers. Same, we can say, about Bisada in Greater Noida and Sunped in Faridabad (Haryana, that has now a BJP government).

Farm suicides in Maharashtra have been a regular curse but Rahul was never so alarmed about visiting the state when his party’s government was there, but he mapped the country in most other areas considered crisis hotbeds of farmers’ suicides and agrarian crisis.

And if we scratch more, we will easily come across many more such instances.

The nation knows Rahul Gandhi is not corrupt. Instead, most political commentators prefer to call him a ‘reluctant’ (or forced) politician.

In retrospective, it seems he could never set his eyes on his targets or we can say he could never set his aims for his trajectory ahead or he was never careful about his political future ahead.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL IS MAKING LIFE DIFFICULT FOR BJP

After Punjab and Maharashtra, he began his farmers connect exercise in Telangana. In Adilabad, during his 15 Kms Padyatra covering five villages where farmers have committed suicide, he took on Narendra Modi, his land acquisition bill and K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the Telangana chief minister, today.

After his around two month long sabbatical or leave of absence, Rahul is in aggressive mode and irrespective of who closed the Amethi Food Park (his own United Progressive Alliance government is responsible for it), the changed provisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s land acquisition bill, that undoes some important clauses of the land bill passed by the UPA government in September 2013, have opened a front for him to attack the government and do the politics of looking pro-poor.

He even met the civil society members on the diluted provisions of the real estate bill. The NDA government has changed or diluted provisions of the bill brought by the UPA government and he alleges the changed provisions to be anti-people.

Clearly, he sees a point here to score politically, and like anyone else in the politics, he is doing the same thing.

Yes, he is silent on Robert Vadra even if the government of Haryana has formed a one-man commission of retired Justice S. N. Dhingra, of Delhi High Court who sentenced Afzal Guru to death, to probe Vadra land deals in Haryana. Congress, naturally, has reacted on it. Vadra has welcomed the move hoping it will clear things.

Rahul who called K. Chandrasekhar Rao ‘mini Modi’ today has forced others, especially in the BJP, to take note of him. He cannot be dismissed anymore, like the politics of his past. Before his return, he had rarely spoken in the Parliament, two times in all, including his famed ‘Kalavati’ speech in 2008. Whatever is the intent of the day, he is making life difficult for the BJP.

He is making leaders in the BJP to attack him, either on the land bill, or on other issue of ‘politics of poor’. And that is what he needs, his politics needs at the moment.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL GANDHI ON TWITTER

India is slated to become the world’s youngest nation by 2020. The UN (UNFPA State of the World’s Population report) says 356 million (28%) of its population is in 15-24 age-group, largest in the world.

Census of India says around 48% India’s population is below 21.

65% of India’s population is below 35.

While writing this, India’s population is over 1.25 billion, world’s second most populous nation after China, and projected to take over China by 2050.

A report by the US (Special 301 Report for 2015) says India’s internet base is projected to be of 370 million users by this year end, the second largest in the world. The report says 213 users will be using mobile internet by this June.

India’s teledensity is around 100 crores (1000 million). Lowering of smartphone prices has quickened the spread of mobile internet in India, already large enough, especially among the youth and working-age population.

The world’s second largest telecom network is India now.

And it is projected to be the world’s fastest growing economy, overtaking the growth rate of China.

That would be in Rahul Gandhi’s mind when his office joined Twitter yesterday. But a Twitter handle @RahulGandhi or a similar one would be far better than @OfficeOfRG.

It may be a personal decision by a politician who is trying to be more aggressive in national politics after returning from his leave of absence.

And as he has had not any social media presence so far, he would have thought to test the waters first with @OfficeOfRG. Rahul has been a favourite social media trend so far, especially for jokes.

Even if not in his name, it is expected from Rahul Gandhi that he will take this initiative seriously. After all, voters, too, come from this working-age population.

The lack of action so far, on day-1 and day-2 can have their own benefits of doubt and we should be ready to give that.

Day-1 was about ‘waiting for Twitter authentication’ and day-2 may be about the first day of activity, with three tweets so far, with the latest one nine hours ago. Hope, the initiative will see more and robust action from day-3 onwards.

If he has to take on the government, if he has to target Narendra Modi, there are more than enough issues in Indian politics to write about, to take care of.

It is all about going beyond the symbolic representations this time, of a hand, of hands and of Robert Vadra.

Rahul Gandhi Twitter

Rahul Gandhi Twitter 2

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAY DAY OR NO MAYDAY: RAHUL IS MAKING NEWS FOR GOOD REASONS THESE DAYS

“Today we pay tribute to the millions of workers whose hard work, sweat and tears have gone into building our nation. No country can aspire to greatness without ensuring that the people who build the nation are partners in its prosperity and success. That those who work in our factories, in our fields, at our construction sites, in our mines and in enterprises big and small across our country are assured dignity of labour and a decent quality of life. That their children too have opportunities to choose the life they want to live, and a chance to excel and prosper. Let us renew our resolve today to strive for an India in which every citizen rich or poor, farmer and labourer, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth can hold their head high and live and work with dignity and honour.”

Rahul Gandhi said this today, on May Day, on Labour’s Day, or on International Workers’ Day. And while saying so, he extended the revival plank of his party, the Indian National Congress, of being pro-poor and fighting for the cause of the farmer.

He is on an India tour these days, protesting the land bill ordinance. In his meetings and outreach programmes, he alleges the Narendra Modi’s government of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. He is alleging that the Narendra Modi’s government is pro-corporate interests and is working to usurp the rights and land of farmers and the poor of this country. He is saying that the ordinance route was taken as the government was not sure of its chances in the Parliament.

Yesterday, he was in Vidarbha, the place of Kalavati and Shashikala and countless others; the place where Rahul ate at Kalavati’s house in May 2008 (in Yavatmal’s Jalka village) and mentioned her later in his famous speech in the Indian Parliament during the trust-vote Manmohan Singh’s government.

He trekked 15 Kms of it. He is there to reach out to farmers and poor. Unseasonal rains have destroyed crops in around 2 lakh hectares, as the government data show. The real figure is expected to be higher, like the farmer suicides, over 1000 this year, in affected regions across 14 states. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have seen many farm suicides in these months.

And the National Democratic Alliance’s government has already re-promulgated a land ordinance that is vociferously opposed by the political opposition as well as some allied within the government.

A changed Rahul sees an opportunity here – of Congress’ revival – and of taking on Bhartiya Janata Party.

Yes, a changed Rahul Gandhi.

Post his latest sabbatical, Rahul looks politically active and more aggressive. And the BJP is taking it seriously, hitting back. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s response in the Indian Parliament yesterday can be seen this way. Firstpost quoted him saying – “Yeh sujh-bujh ki sarkar hai, isme koi galat fahmi nahi rahe (this is a government of solutions, there should be no misconception about this). Booted hona better hai. Booted out hona khatarnak hai (It is better to be booted. Getting booted out is very dangerous). Yesterday there was criticism (by Rahul) against the Prime Minister that he spends time abroad. At least we know where he is. Is India taller in the community of nations today than it was a few years ago or not? I was surprised when I read over the last few days that compared to the developed world, whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or Nepal today, it is India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. The Congress Party would realize when the Prime Minister of India goes abroad even for two days or three days, he performs a national duty. There is a difference between performing a national duty and disappearing for a jaunt. Therefore, you must realize the difference between the two. What is the kind of commitment to politics that you suddenly disappear for months together and then you come back and say that I will pick up an issue every day merely because it will make my presence felt.”

So, Rahul Gandhi, after his leave of absence, is more certain of his future than ever it seems. Probably, he has introspected and meditated about it.

Hope, the changed streak is there to stay – and words of his May Day speech, that are clearly backed by a pro-poor approach, should be backed by an intent that is natural.

And yes, he has to find the solution to the ‘Robert Vadra riddle’ and convince the countrymen about it. It should happen soon. There is indeed a mayday like situation there.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AN ACTIVE AND AGGRESSIVE RAHUL GANDHI: HOPE THIS STREAK IS THERE TO STAY..

Let’s be political about it and let’s be politically correct about it.

And let’s be politically straightforward about it.

And being politically straightforward in this country means it needs a strong government and a strong opposition – if we go by the legislative politics and political developments of the day.

Now there is a strong government, led by Narendra Modi – the National Democratic Alliance government led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP led government won the majority on its own, first time in 30 years – since 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi stormed to the Parliament winning 404 of the seats – riding high on the sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

But there is no strong opposition. And there are no strong opposition leaders – to the stature of Narendra Modi – except very few – who can challenge Narendra Modi nationally.

And Rahul Gandhi after his recent sabbatical stands first among them.

For the time-being, he looks charged, has an agenda, and is pursuing it.

If we take different news reports in consideration, his latest sabbatical was of around two months. The world was talking about it but came to know about it officially on a Monday (February 23) when the Budget session of the Parliament began. On April 16, he returned.

Reports say many things about his sabbatical – including introspection and meditation (that included Vipassana as well).

He made news headlines during his around two-months long sabbatical. He was seen as a reluctant politician with a string of electoral failures since 2010. The aura of ‘seriousness’ around him was on the wane. But his leave of absence, shrouded in mystery, made for daily news elements.

And the good things is – his return and he himself are making for even more news elements.

And that is good for Indian politics. He is taking on the government. His politics looks like having a future now. He is speaking and interacting regularly.

Hope this streak is there to stay with an active and aggressive Rahul Gandhi.

Indian politics of the day badly needs a strong opposition and opposition leader and Rahul Gandhi can lead here. One-sided numbers of political opposition in Rajya Sabha would be of little advantage to the country until there are voices, both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, that raise issues in a constructive way and are ready to fight back.

And the government is taking serious note of Rahul Gandhi now, readings of the political developments of the day tell us.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL SPEAKS – #RAHULROAR VS #PAPPUMEOWS

I took three snapshots of Twitter today, for its India trends – at around 6 PM – at 7 PM – and at around 9 PM.

In the first two, though the hashtag #RahulRoar was number one, it was followed by #PappuMeows on number two.

But in the third, at 9 PM, while #RahulRoar was still at number one, I could not locate #PappuMeows. It was out from the trending list of Twitter for its India-wide trends.

While #RahulRoar is launched by Rahul Gandhi’s fans, #PappuMeows is launched by Rahul’s detractors.

Rahul Gandhi-6PM

Rahul Gandhi-7PM

Rahul Gandhi-9.30PM

While Rahul didn’t speak anything new in the highly publicised farmers’ rally yesterday, he looked and sounded more confident today, taking on Narendra Modi and his government – over the issues ranging from farmers’ suicides pushed up by unseasonal rains to the land acquisition act.

And his fans are buoyed by him today it looks – at least his fans who use Twitter.

But there are many beyond Twitter. And that includes his mother Sonia Gandhi and the political rivals of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance government. While Rahul was delivering his speech the Lok Sabha the Budget Session of which resumed today, the faces of MPs surrounding him were worth watching. They were all elated as if Rahul’s sabbatical had extended its benefits to them as well.

It is 9:30 PM now, the time for the last Twitter snapshot of the day and #RahulRoar is still trending at the top of India trends, followed by the known IPL trend of #DDvsKKR at number two.

Rahul Gandhi-9.30PM

Will it change anything on the ground?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL SPEAKS – FROM THE OPPOSITION BENCHES IN LOK SABHA

So far, Rahul Gandhi had made only two speeches in the Parliament worth remembering. And going on his political career so far, he had failed to live up to.

He failed to speak in the Parliament, and among the public. He failed to own up when Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation was at its peak. He failed to speak on time when the agitation against Delhi gang-rape of December 16, 2012 was on peak. He failed to own up Congress’ low while Congress’ decline touched a historic low.

Yesterday, he spoke, after a series of debacles and humiliating losses, but he could not offer anything new, even if he had taken some two months to think over the rout (as claimed). The projected mega rally of farmers at the Ramlila Ground turned out to be a routine affair.

And today, he spoke in the Lok Sabha. In all probability, it was his third speech in the lower House.

Budget Session of the Lok Sabha reconvened today again after a hiatus of 30 days and it was headed for a stormy session given the controversial statements of leaders and ministers (like we saw in case of Giriraj Singh today) and issues like ‘land acquisition ordinance’ and communal harmony among others.

Rahul Gandhi was better today. He looked confident and sounded more confident when he spoke. Though the Robert Vadra tag will not leave him anywhere, until he finds a honest remedy to it.

The farmer that is getting angrier or is in two minds and the common man – on Narendra Modi’s land acquisition ordinance and the anti-poor policies – will certainly react negatively when it will come to the issue of Robert Vadra’s status.

Yes, Robert Vadra as such is no issue. But his VVIP status, his riches and allegations of corruption are something that would make the common man an angry soul. This is something Rahul Gandhi needs to work on. And if his task is made difficult by the humiliating electoral losses of Congress, he has also a window of opportunity in portraying the government pro-rich, anti-farmer and anti-common man. But for that, he needs to do the cleansing of his house first.

Also, there were words about Sonia Gandhi fixing the time for Rahul’s speech. Reportedly, she had spoken with some opposition parties for Rahul’s speech and had issued a whip for Congress MPs. But only 28 of the 44 Congress MPs were present in the House when Rahul was speaking (from the opposition benches, for the first time).

For the moment, we are going to take everyone’s observation with a fistful of salt. It is difficult to believe on the verity of different data-sets.

Rahul came with his own. Government came with its own. States have differing versions. In centre were two issues – farmers’ suicide pushed by unseasonal rains and land acquisition.

The fact midst all this is – farmers are dying, pushed to the extremities by the rain gods and the policymakers at the centre and in the states.

And land is a sensitive issue for this country of some 1.25 billion, the world’s largest democracy. Most of its farmers are small land occupants and marginal labourers and the condition has worsened over the years.

The verity about data-sets will come only with time and proper implementation, something that we have missed so far, irrespective of the ‘policy in question’.

And the whole political lot is to share the blame for it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CAN THIS ‘ZAMEENWAPSI’ BE A GOOD BEGINNING?

As expected (and claimed), Rahul Gandhi met a group of farmers before the Sunday rally at the Ramlila Ground.

As expected, he did not make any press appearance.

Instead, Congress came up with a website – http://www.zameenwapsi.com – a day before the mega farmers rally on April 19, that in turn, is a day before the Lok Sabha resumes its Budget Session.

Many in Congress are naming the rally as Rahul’s comeback event but the wise ones are planning it as pro-farmers rally that is intented to launh a series of protests against the land acquisition amendment ordinance.

So, basically it is anti-BJP movement enveloped as ‘Congress’ hands with farmers’ and this website is a reminder of how desperate the Congress party is to reclaim the lost ground.

This ‘desperateness’ is visible in many forms and one is the leadership crisis in the party. Good days are always taken care of but the whole party looks at party’s first family with folded hands during bad days. No one talks of the any other possible leadership that would be natural choice in any other political party.

And this website, with all technicalities, is an extension to that.

Rahul Gandhi-1

Rahul Gandhi-2

Rahul Gandhi-3

Rahul Gandhi-4

Here, the website begins with Rahul Gandhi (as expected). Sonia Gandhi, naturally, finds the place on the front page at the other edge. The second page is with Rajiv Gandhi. Manmohan Singh finds place on the third page along with Rahul and Sonia. After all, he is the previous prime-minister and it was under his government that the Congress’ land acquisition law was passed. Rahul was again on the fourth page.

Other Congress leaders are absent from the website (as expected). Also absent are Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shasti and Indira Gandhi. And above all, the site’s frontage misses Mahatma Gandhi though the timeline about land acquisition in India that it talks about dates back to 1894.

Typical measures by the Congress party, very typical to its halfhearted but desperate measures of now!

Hopefully, other leaders including the historical figures find their place as the days pass on, though the site, and overall activity by the Congress party, which aims to lead the political opposition in targetting the BJP led NDA government, has an inherent danger of legitimising Narendra Modi that no one in Congress is, perhaps, thinking about.

Can Congress start to reclaim the lost ground with this ‘return of the land to its rightful owner’ pledge?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AS EXPECTED (AND NOT EXPECTED), RAHUL GANDHI IS YET TO MEET ANYONE

As expected (and not expected), Rahul Gandhi is yet to meet anyone.

Reports say he is to meet some farmers next morning in the run up to the rally on Sunday. The farmers rally is a big thing for farmers and whether the party sees it as Rahul’s comeback event or not and the way ahead for the party depends on it.

So, the party is going full-throttle about it. Major Congress leaders and state satraps have taken the responsibility of arranging the crowd for the iconic Ramlila Ground, the epicenter of many historic rallies and movements.

So, Rahul is expected to meet the farmers tomorrow to reiterate them ‘Congress Ke Haath, Sabke Saath’ (Congress’ hands believe in taking everyone together.

And it the changed circumstances or the circumstances created after Rahul’s sabbatical or leave of absence (or absence, the way you want to put it) have made it like a ‘Rahul’s comeback event’, even if the whole machinery of Congress including its President Sonia Gandhi is looking ahead to make it a grand success.

Yes, like a mother, Sonia was there, yesterday and today, to greet and meet on Rahul’s comeback, and the day after. Priyanka Gandhi was also there yesterday.

Meanwhile, Rahul’s ‘leave of absence’ and his comeback continue to make for news elements. Even if the establishment was well aware of his whereabouts, his stay during the days of absence, his ‘reasons’ behind the absence, Congress’ leadership issue and old versus new guard would make for newsies in the days to come.

Rahul Gandhi is protected by the Special Protection Group (SPG) which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Also, he was out of India, using his passport, a service area under the Ministry of External Affairs. And as there is strong PMO (the Prime Minister’s office) this time, it would well be taking updates from the same. And a person like Rahul Gandhi cannot disappear like this, if the government and the top political leadership don’t want to.

Yes, it is a different matter if they (from the ruling party) don’t choose to tell us about him. After all, they are political rivals of the Congress party and have come to the power by defeating (a humiliating defeat) the later.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WELL, WHAT ABOUT RAHUL’S LOOKS NOW?

That is a million dollar question everyone should be asking.

Whether he would be in his beards and moustache or a new clean-shaven Rahul Gandhi will be unleashed before us?

The world, as we know, saw him today, this morning, for a brief period.

He was in car, a sports utility vehicle. And like his stature of coming from a political family like Nehru-Gandhi, he was in a sports utility vehicle, a big-sized one.

All we could catch of him was in passing moments the snapshot of which is not clear.

But what was clear that he was looking fit and was ‘clean shaven’, as revealed in this PTI image.

Rahul-PTI

So, is he charged now?

The face, in whatever passing reference, with a clean-shaved look, failed to tell us anything.

And given the spate of past failures – electoral, political and social – that gave him the epithet of a ‘reluctant politician’ – we are not going to guess it now.

Much depends on how he looks like and how he carries out his polity now irrespective of warring, demanding and celebrating Congress factions.

For the moment, he looks clean-shaved and fit, like one would expect him to be, after a long ‘leave of absence’ that included meditation sessions (including Vipassana).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/