Opinion: Rahul Gandhi has nothing to offer except ‘I said so’

·Columnist
·5-min read

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi held a virtual press conference on May 28 accusing the Modi government of failing to understand COVID-19 and mishandling the situation. ‘Modi gave space for COVID, that’s why I call it ‘Movid’,’ he added.

"The first wave no one understood… but the second wave is the PM's responsibility. His stunts (nautanki)... his failure to fulfil his responsibilities is the reason for the second wave," the Congress leader said.

The press conference was aired at a time, when daily cases have fallen below the 2-lakh mark, recoveries exceed daily additions, deaths have fallen below 3,000 per day and India is well past its peak of the second wave.

"Unfortunately, the prime minister is an event manager. He cannot deal with more than one event at a time. Anything happens, he will organise an event and deal only with that. We cannot do it with an event manager in such times. We need effective and speedy administration," he added, also accusing PM Modi of ‘ignorance’ on the virus.

What does he mean here? It's very confusing!

Is he saying the time has come to change the leadership. But Modi is an elected prime minister. The Bharatiya Janata Party enjoys absolute majority in the Lower House, even without the support of its allies.

If Rahul feels the government has lost the confidence of the people and the House, Congress should move a no-confidence motion in the next session. Doodh ka doodh aur pani ka pani ho jayega.

The Gandhi scion reminded everybody that he had warned the prime minister about the pandemic last February but nobody listened to him. He continuously harped on the ‘Maine kaha tha na (I told you so)’ rhetoric.

This is rather irritating. This attitude almost seems like he is deriving sadistic pleasure from the rising coronavirus cases and deaths. He is playing plain politics and trying to derive political mileage from a pandemic.

Rahul claimed: ‘Modi didn’t understand COVID at all’, as if he (Rahul) has done a PhD on the subject. The entire world, including the World Health Organization, is still grappling to understand the virus, its origin and ways to prevent its rapid spread.

The Congress leader also predicted ‘multiple waves’ in the country if vaccinations continued at the current pace.

"I directly told the PM that if India does not sort out its vaccination strategy, there will be multiple waves since the virus adapts. The prime minister is the head of the country. He is responsible for its well being. The buck stops with the prime minister. But the prime minister lives in a bubble... no one talks to him because of the way he handles things. So, in effect, the ship is moving without a clue.”

His interview had nothing new to offer, no constructive feedback. Vaccination is the only permanent solution to the problem. Even a child knows this, so it is pretty rich when Rahul Gandhi speaks about it as if he is the only one with this knowledge.

"The prime minister is trying to repair his image but his image is gone. It's dead. It is time the prime minister stands up and leads the nation. These are the times where he has to show his leadership, his courage, his strength. The prime minister must stand up and deliver... don't be afraid. Time has come to show what a good leader you are. So please deliver."

Rahul seems to be buoyed by the recent surveys showing a fall in the popularity ratings of the prime minister. But he needs to understand that there is still three years to the next general elections and Modi has a lot of time to recover and repair the damage done to his image.

Rahul should be worried about his ratings (12%) which have declined even when he should have been the default beneficiary of reduction in Modi’s popularity. Modi still tops the ‘who should be the next PM’ question in the survey (40%).

Rahul thundered that Modi is finished, his image is destroyed, but that will be decided by the people of the country in the next Lok Sabha elections. He sees hope that his chance has finally come!

The BJP government, meanwhile, lashed out at Rahul’s use of the word ‘nautanki’ while targeting PM Modi.

"The prime minister is fighting COVID with the people of the country. And he uses words like nautanki, which is an insult to the nation and the people. The people have long put an end to their nautanki," said Union Minister Prakash Javedkar.

Javdekar reiterated that vaccinations in India will be completed in 2021 before December. He advised Rahul to focus on Congress-ruled states where there are problems in the vaccination drive.

Rahul had also alleged that the Modi government is fudging the death toll. During the Q&A, Rahul was asked about reports of Congress-ruled states misreporting COVID death figures.

"I spoke to the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, and told them that lying will only harm them. Reality needs to be accepted. Actual death numbers might be disturbing but we must stick to telling the truth," he replied.

Earlier during the month, Rahul had tweeted, ‘The only way to stop the spread of corona now is a full lockdown.’

Leave alone Prime Minister Modi, not even the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states listened to his advice.

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The degree of strictness of lockdown in the second wave has been lighter and more localised. This has helped India avert an economic crisis like experienced in the first wave. The supply side of the economy has not been disturbed due to this strategy.

In fact, this highlights the fact that Rahul may not have himself understood the virus. He needs to do constructive criticism and provide workable solutions to control the pandemic.

Playing the blame game and merely asserting ‘I said so’ will not earn him any brownie points.

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