BJP Won, Rahul Won!

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Rahul had set out to drub BJP in Gujarat and break the image of a comatose Congress, and he has done that… and a little more

Sujit charaborty

Sujit charaborty

He is a journalist for the last 36 years and has worked for Sunday Mail, Down to Earth, his own Sikkimese newspaper, Weekend Review. Currently Editor-at-Large with Parliamentarian, and is the author of “Soul On Wheels”

As a party the Congress lost in Gujarat. Those are just figures on the panel of the Election Commission… so many seats won by so and so party, and so forth. That is the routine one has to tread after every election, especially since the BJP’s magical sweep in 2014, with every news channel – most of them now corporate controlled – screeching all the while.

But “what a fall it was my countrymen”!

From the arrogant prediction of BJP party president that the party would cull 150 seats, to a situation where it could not cross 100. What a fall… and the BJP is shaken, as is being seen in Prime Minister Modi’s recent speeches within the party, during which he has been seen visibly disconcerted.

Contrarily, the ‘loser’, if you could call him so, Rahul Gandhi seems to be having a pretty night’s sleep. In fact, the moment the results from Gujarat started showing a slash into the BJP boast, the trolls started their work from BJP’s social media army HQ, that Rahul was watching Star Wars in a cinema theatre.

And what if he did so?

Rahul, the Pappu, is given to such spoils of power as watching films in theatres. One forgets that Rahul has enough resources at home to enjoy Star Wars on large screen HD, home theatre situation, munching on popcorns sitting with his buddies. I would even say that given the fact that Rahul comes from a different generation of political gladiators, the Hindutva trolls with their medieval mindset are barely expected to understand him. He had a job to do. He did it well. And he felt, and I would second him, he deserved a short break.

But do we have any evidence of what the trolls were saying about Rahul sitting cozy in a cinema theatre? None, whatever.

Therefore the moot question is, why are the trolls targetting Rahul now, the guy they had earlier dumped as a ‘Pappu’? The speeches at the University of Berkley and to corporate America were the first clear signals that something had changed. Suddenly, here was a suave politician who had the relevant and clear answers to the questions. What unnerved the Hindutva brigade was Rahul’s open admission that Narendra Modi was a more astute politician than him. That queered the pitch for the saffronites, who do not have much to offer other than vitriol. This was new!

It was also a clever tactical move for the Congress. Modi had bought his way into the American-Indian Hindu crowd with much fanfare. But now here was a person who did not deny dynasty, showed how it worked in every political party, and conquered USA with élan. For Rahul was conquering the real America, not a captive, half-native section of it. This defeat of cheap gimmickry in the hands of intellect and grace was something that the rabble rousing “Brown Shirts” had never expected. A guessing game started that unnerved BJP. What is the guy doing?

I do not want to go into all the known details of the caste and community combinations in Gujarat, the Hardik-Jignesh-Alpesh combo package and how Rahul worked it out. My guess is that the promise of granting reservation to the Patidars was a clever thinking: Rahul knew Congress was not coming to power in Gujarat.

And this is what I want to say: Rahul was not playing to lose, but was calculating a loss for a victory much ahead. He has calculated that the Congress has lost much ground, and was never a very good bat in Gujarat anyway over the past 22 years. His tactic, and mind you, it was a clearly thought out tactic… his tactic was to give BJP a solid drubbing in Gujarat.

Clearly, he had done his homework well. He had touched every community and sensed what had gone wrong. He sensed the deep distress in the farming community after the nasty jolt of demonetisation. He sensed businesses collapsing due to GST. And he sensed the unrest amongst the youth. So if you break up the votes, you will find that the farming hinterland had swept into the Congress fold. And the youth have slammed the BJP. “The younger the age group, the more the Congress’ vote share,” a journalist friend told me.

He is unrecognisable today, confided another friend, who had been camping in Gujarat for Aam Admi Party. His shift towards soft-Hindutva was clear, not just by his visit to scores of temples. “He made it clear that there will be no clerics surrounding him.”

He beat the trolls all the way. I cannot for the heavens imagine Rahul Gandhi naming and shaming a senior Congress leader like Mani Shankar Aiyar, demanding that he apologises to Modi for that “neech” comment. Not just that, Aiyar was sacked from the party. The Digvijay Singh had got away with much worse. There was no one in Congress to tell the old fogies to shut up. Here is one now!

Rahul had not set out to win power in Gujarat. He had set out to damn BJP and prove that the Gujarat Model is a media manufacture, which he has. Rahul had set out to show that the lion could be bearded in his own den, which he has. Rahul had set out to test the waters for 2019, which he has. The deepening farm unrest and a restless youth army have shaken Modi and Shah. There is no way the government can do anything to revive the farm sector, and this discontent will spread. There is also no clear plan for the youth.

Thus, having achieved so much in so little time, I guess he deserved at least one evening of Star Wars and

popcorns!

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