A month and a half ago I watched in horror along with the rest of India as politicians across party lines converged to negate the historic Supreme Court ruling debarring convicted politicians from contesting elections. At the last possible moment the BJP sent the bill to a standing committee, but they weren’t fooling anyone. It was just to score points against the Congress. At an all party convention they extended their firm support to the government – something that they never do. The compulsion was that strong.
But then the nightmare returned as the government tried to push through an ordinance. They had the balls to project it as protecting the Constitution! The BJP protested (as expected again), but not with their usual fervor. No threats of strikes or mass protests like they did with the FDI in retail issue. It was more of a token protest. No observer could be deceived for even one minute and think that they really meant it. If the BJP was in power, they would have done the exact same thing. The fact of the matter is that all political parties were behind the resolution. It threatened them all.
The came Rahul Gandhi’s (RG’s) dramatic intervention. By calling the ordinance a piece of trash that needed to be thrown away, he was echoing the sentiments of every decent Indian. Even the BJP had never asked for the original bill to be outright junked. As a result, both the ordinance and the subsequent bill are now dead. And as a country we can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Do I care whether or not this was a calculated move by RG to curry favor and win the hearts of the average Indian? No – I do not. To me it doesn’t matter. I only know one thing – if he had not spoken out, the ordinance would have been passed and a bill would have followed. There’s no hope in looking to the president to sink it. He has no power and was a Congress man to the core in any case. Without RG’s intervention, criminals like Lalu Yadav would still be allowed to contest elections as their appeals meander through the courts for years upon end.
I only know one thing – if he had not spoken out, the ordinance would have been passed and a subsequent bill would have followed
If this was a deliberate ploy to project RG as a “fresh hope” it was very clumsily done. As things stand now, most people are suspicious of his outburst anyway demanding to know why he didn’t speak out before and what he was doing during the planning stages of the bill. Had he and his advisers really wanted to play the savior-of-the-masses card it could have been done much more elegantly without antagonizing existing allies, without provoking the BJP to call for his resignation (or the PMs resignation), and without being charged with “disrespecting the PM” – a statement I find ludicrous by the way. He was just giving his opinion on the bill as it his democratic right to do so. He never mentioned the PM in his little speech at all.
So no, I don’t think this was a pre planned move. If so, then he must have terrible advisers – and politicians are masters of manipulation. I think this was a move of desperation. There are two scenarios. First, he may have made his objections clear within the party and was overruled either by his mother or by other senior leaders and bringing his disagreement out in the open was the only way to force the party’s hand by presenting a sort of fait accompli. In the second scenario, he might be completely uninterested in entering politics and just wants to live a quiet and peaceful life. But as an Indian citizen he can’t just stand by and do nothing, so chose this clumsy way to just scuttle the ordinance and the bill in one go.
If it’s the first case then one can only hope he starts making more of his opinions public. The last thing India needs is another leader without convictions or character. If the second, then let him milk his position and stature as much as possible for the good of the country while still not getting involved. It’s what I would do as a lazy person and yet with a lot of power.
But in the end, I don’t care either way. The ordinance is dead and a horrible piece of legislation will never see the light of day. Motivations aside, we owe him thanks for that. If he never does anything more in his entire life, this one act alone is enough.