Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday drew a parallel between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and despotic rulers of the past. During a virtual interaction with Brown University's professor Ashutosh Varshney, the Congress leader made a rather unflattering comparison to Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.
"Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi used to have elections. They used to win them. It wasn't like they weren't voting but there was no institutional framework to protect that vote," Rahul Gandhi said. He had been responding to a remark on India's recent downgradation by several democracy and freedom indexes.
For the uninitiated, India has recently been demoted from 'free' to 'partly free' status by the 2021 Freedom in the World Index. Soon after this, V-Dem Institute's Democracy Report 2021 contended that India has turned into an "electoral autocracy" over the last decade. The new report ranked India seventh on a list of the top 10 autocratizing countries between 2010 and 2020, contending that the country had morphed from an 'electoral democracy' into an 'electoral autocracy'.
And while the Indian government has countered both reports, it has become a bone of contention for Opposition leaders. This however is not the only time that Gandhi has launched an indirect attack along the same lines against the Prime Minister.
A few weeks earlier he had mused about how "so many dictators have names that begin with M". And while the tweet made no mention of Modi or India, many had drawn their own conclusions from the somewhat cryptic message. Over the last few years Gandhi has also launched far more direct attacks at the PM and the BJP-led government.