Free Press Journal

Modi, Rahul must avoid digs abroad


It is sad that the healthy convention of prime ministers and Opposition leaders not washing domestic dirty linen in public while abroad is now dead and buried. Today, politics in India is a no-holds-barred game, dirtier than ever and neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor the ridiculously out-of-depth Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi  honour that convention both in letter and spirit. The latest case in point is Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with students of

The latest case in point is Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with students of University of California, Berkeley where he said in the course of taking digs at Modi that “violence, anger and the politics of polarisation have raised their ugly head in India.” Painting an exaggerated alarmist picture based on stray incidents that by no means are a new normal, Rahul said “people are being lynched, Dalits are being killed over suspicions of carrying beef, Muslims are killed over suspicions of eating beef, all this is new in India.” If such comments do not amount to defaming the nation wholesale and do not amount to a crass betrayal of India what else does.

While the BJP is up in arms at Rahul’s indiscretions abroad, one cannot but admit that Prime Minister Modi too has broken that convention time and again. He had spoken of how he got a scam infested system in “virasat” while he was on his first visit to the US after becoming prime minister in 2014. He followed that up in his next visit to the US where he talked about “damaad making Rs 1,000 crores”, a clear reference to Robert Vadra and the allegations of corruption against him.

During his visit to Germany in 2015, Modi had said that India was “begging earlier and will not beg any more” which too was seen to be in poor taste. On his maiden visit to China in May 2015, Modi had even gone on to say that people had at one point of time considered it a “misfortune” to be born in India and were ashamed to be called Indian.

The famed founder of the Indian Express group, Ramnath Goenka, had once been asked by a journalist how he, an intrepid fighter against the Indian establishment had showered praise on then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, saying that he could now die in peace as the country was in safe hands and he had replied that that statement was made by him on foreign soil. He said it was his principle that he never criticized the prime minister or other Indian leaders when he was on foreign soil. We have indeed over the years come a long way from such a principled approach. It is time we do some soul-searching and return to respecting such time-honoured conventions.