It is not unusual for former Congress president and frontline party leader Rahul Gandhi to make statements that are irresponsible and outlandish and which, arguably, embarrass the country abroad. That his remarks on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of his visit to the State after he and his team of Opposition leaders were forced to return to Delhi from the airport for fear that they would incite violence in troubled Kashmir, have been used by Pakistan to buttress its Kashmir position in a letter to the United Nations. Realising the grim implications of his statement that questioned the “draconian administration” in Kashmir, Rahul has now lashed out at Pakistan saying that Kashmir is India’s internal issue and there is no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere in it.
This is a desperate attempt at damage control which makes a mockery of the leader’s muddled stand on the sensitive issue. Rahul had earlier sharply criticised the "brute force unleashed on the people” so his bid to control damage has dented further his already-low credibility. In reaction to Pakistan’s inclusion of Rahul’s position in the letter to UN he said “There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world." It is common knowledge that the high-pitched Congress campaign in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections was derailed largely because Rahul Gandhi chose to call Prime Minister Narendra Modi a ‘chor’ (thief) several times in the context of the Rafale aircraft deal without a shred of evidence to support his sweeping remarks. Rather than learn any lessons from the humiliating defeat of the Congress, Rahul seems unfazed. In Congress culture where subservience to the Nehru-Gandhi family is strong, no one in the party has the gumption to discipline Rahul and to talk him out of such statements. Ironically, the visit of Rahul and his team to Kashmir was organised a day after the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a statement asking political leaders to not visit the Valley as it would disturb the gradual restoration of peace and normal life. It remains to be seen how long Rahul’s immature flip flops would continue and what price the Congress will continue to pay for it. He needs to use tact and circumspection and not shoot his mouth off at the slightest provocation.