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Millennium Post

Rahul’s Key Message

It was a masterstroke of political communication. By rubbishing the ordinance to save convicted politicians Rahul Gandhi has delivered a key message, unique in its style. He in effect said that he is wholeheartedly for transparency. And see how he salvaged an apparently lost ground. The ordinance, which was due to be returned by the President Pranab Mukherjee, was in any case doomed. If Congress had let some more time to elapse there would have been screaming headlines on the President taking a rightful call. This would have only helped the rival BJP. The party leaders had met the president a day before and pleaded with him to return the ill-conceived piece of legislation. Congress had to act swift. Entered a disturbed Rahul Gandhi, the new face of the party.
True there has been many a criticism on the issue of protocol. How can the party vice president rush to trash a legislation, which was cleared by the party core committee? The core committee has among others the party president Sonia Gandhi as its head. Was Rahul miffed that his mother did not consult him? Viewed from this angle one would ask if there has been differences of opinion between Rahul and his mother? This will be an obvious question from those who love to see political intrigue even within a close-knit family. The faultfinders would also see in it a conspiracy to denigrate the prime minister and his ‘authority’. In fact this was maligning the entire cabinet, which had cleared the ordinance.

How can Rahul, some 40 years junior to Manmohan Singh, attack the cabinet decision so brazenly? This is queer since Rahul’s own party is running the country. More important he went public against a decision vetted by the Congress core committee. Is he an extra constitutional authority? Should Singh accept the humiliation and continue in his largely ‘ornamental position’?
What these decriers wink at is the thought that had gone behind Rahul’s PR effort on 27 September. 

Rahul was not part of the core committee that okayed the ordinance. One cannot claim that he revised his view after President called ministers on the ordinance. Or for that matter Congress reviewed it post-BJP opposition. By placing Rahul to trash the ordinance in a carefully ‘planned’impromptu appearance poll-bound Congress delivered its key message. ‘The party’s new leadership is conscientious and transparent; Rahul and his team would not hesitate to act against accepted political line even being labeled as irreverential. So are the majority of our new age citizens. Wouldn’t the cameo of Rahul Gandhi in Delhi’s press club find warm applaud amongst the young voters of the nation?

On hurting the prestige of the lofty office of the prime minister the critics are not taking into account that the core committee chaired by Sonia Gandhi first cleared the ordinance. Therefore if Rahul’s ‘rash’ act has demeaned the status of the cabinet and the prime minister, it has not actually lauded the core committee, the party’s highest decision taking body, for its ‘nonsensical’ decision. If Rahul has insulted the prime minister, he also has insulted his mother, the Congress president.
It is this aspect that leads one to believe that quick enactment of Rahul Gandhi’s conscience in the capital’s press club was spontaneous. Had Rahul been a good orator he would have used suave language to express his angst. But these are small blemishes not noticed much by today’s young who all use intemperate and irreverential languages. What is critical is delivery of the key message to the key constituency. This Rahul Gandhi did effectively.

Should Manmohan Singh feel hurt and resign? This sentiment expressed by many senior scribes is laughable. Didn’t the same prime minister express his desire to work under Rahul Gandhi only a few weeks back? Did anything change since then for Singh to revisit his desire? If Rahul has ventilated his views the prime minister has to honour it. In the party hierarchy Rahul ranks higher than Manmohan Singh who is there as the family’s choice, not as a leader in his own right. Why will Manmohan Singh feel slighted?

Since Singh has all along been the prime minister without any authority executing decisions of the party ‘high command’ Rahul’s impromptu act did in no way undermine his authority as a rubber stamp. Singh has been the face, something no other family retainer in Congress can match. He also has the necessary mindset to read the signs from his superiors. After all he did rise in the
bureaucratic hierarchy even though he was a lateral entry into the system. Such a person cannot take umbrage at a well-executed political drama.

In all scandalous instances where the office of the prime minister was embroiled, the buck stopped at some other lesser functionaries. In 2G it was Raja, in coal it is for the coal ministry to explain, in case of armed forces the problem shifted to the defence minister, in case of CBI the law minister had to make way and there are many such instances. Manmohan Singh is a face, which can do no wrong. Given his role as an exhibit in the highest office of the country all readily accept that the prime minister himself can never do any wrong.

Who will be the fall guy then in case of the ordinance fiasco? Well is it not for the law minister to examine such issues threadbare? More so when one has an eminent lawyer holding that portfolio! What was Kapil Sibal doing then? The prime minister was busy preparing for a very important trip to USA. If Sibal brings a law to be passed is the prime minister expected to apply his mind separately on it?

If Rahul Gandhi has found fault with bill and expressed his feeling Singh has every right to seek explanation from his law minister. Clearly the Congress vice president did not undermine the prime minister’s position. He merely drew attention to the incompetence or may be deliberate distortion of a senior lawyer who happens to be the law minister.

The author is a communication professional

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