It is Rahulji’s 51st birthday on 19th June. I would like to say something about him on this auspicious day because he has inspired thousands of grassroots Congress workers like me in innumerable ways. Whenever I think of Rahulji, I am reminded of that famous saying, “When the going gets tough the tough get going!”
I think this sentence describes Rahulji beautifully. The decks are stacked against him. A venomous political party propped up by an organization with hate filled philosophy, is attacking Congress party and especially Rahulji. Even the topmost leader of that party is desperately attacking Rahulji. He seems to be afraid that if he does not do so, his days in the highest office will be numbered. He does not seem to care that he is downgrading the office he is holding by his behavior and utterances.
It is to the credit of Rahulji that he has kept his calm despite such attacks. His dignity is such that he does not prefer to retaliate because it will become a game of mudslinging which will in turn further damage the already damaged political environment in the country.
I personally met Rahulji thirteen years ago. I was one of the 200 Congress workers chosen from all over the country personally by him to work in Uttar Pradesh for assembly elections. This was my first opportunity to work directly under him. Later he also entrusted me the responsibility of training of NSUI and Youth Congress workers. He conducted the elections of NSUI and Youth Congress in a manner which ensured rise of capable young men and women from grassroots devoid of any godfathers and they have proved their worth.
I have had the opportunity of interacting with him and observing him from close quarters. He is a very down to earth person. He harbors no ego. He listens to you with full concentration, thinks over what you have said and responds appropriately. He may not agree with you, but you are sure that he has heard you carefully and has given a serious thought to your argument. You feel happy. I know that even a simple grassroots Congress worker is especially important for him because he gets to know the ground reality from him. He has been consistently working to revitalize the Congress party from grassroots up.
Our nation is going through a bad patch. This BJP government is consistently working to undermine democracy and erode civic rights. All the democratic institutions created to hold up the values promised by our Constitution have been weakened by this government. Even the judiciary which is the last resort when the values and principles enshrined in the constitution are challenged, seem somewhat helpless. Judiciary has become vulnerable to certain ill-intentioned manoeuvring by the ruling party.
Thoughtless decisions or decisions where no thought is given to the consequences, has become a norm for this government. Demonetization, GST bill with innumerable inadequacies, sudden declaration of lockdown are some examples among many. It is not that this government does not think, it has no capacity to think beyond teaching people to hate other religions and call everyone who disagrees with them as traitors.
All the media organizations are being subjected to tremendous pressure forcing them to toe the government line. It is equally unfortunate that the media has no willpower to resist, it has crawled when asked to bend. Media is expected to undertake government propaganda and denigrate the opposition and it is doing so with a very few exceptions.
This country had a glorious tradition of allowing dissent as it is necessary to keep the rulers on track in a democracy. Many writers, humourists, cartoonists, intellectuals, and social workers as well as leading personalities from stage and screen have always spoken out against the things they disagreed with, and they were not victimized. This culture has changed for the worse. This government does not entertain dissent or disagreement. If you do not agree with the government’s policies, you are called a traitor and you are trolled ruthlessly by trolls which include ruling party functionaries, and the top functionary follows the trolls.
One religion is being demonized to create hate among people and bring them together under one banner. Civic rights are being trampled upon by an unholy alliance of politicians, bureaucrats, and police with help from media. A reign of terror is being unleashed to silence everyone who disagrees and attempts to criticize. Bills like the abolition of Article 370 in Kashmir, CAA and NRC etc. were brought in undermining the spirit of the democratic principles and basic tenets of the Indian Constitution drafted by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Economy is in doldrums; crores have lost their livelihood and there is no hope on horizon of jobs for lakhs of youth waiting for their first jobs and yet only a couple of industrialists are prospering beyond imagination.
The governments led by non-BJP parties are harassed, defections are engineered by threats of prosecution, imprisonment, and harassment at the hands of central government agencies and if everything else fails then lure of money does the trick and the Governors also play the political games.
Covid–19 pandemic has become the worse example of the lack of vision and inept handling by this government. This is the worst handling of a crisis of such a serious dimension on a global scale by any government.
This government plays politics everywhere and wants to win at any cost. Huge election meetings are held even when the experts have repeatedly warned to avoid large gatherings of people. This happened very recently in West Bengal assembly elections and Rahulji was the only politician who, realizing the danger of spread of disease in the state, took the decision of stopping campaigning.
The relentless campaign against the Congress party by BJP and personal attacks on as well as character assassination of Soniaji, Rahulji as well as his forefathers is a shameless attempt to pressurize him to keep quiet because the ruling party knows that it is only Rahulji who has the guts and gumption to defeat them and end the dirty game. All this makes no difference to Rahulji. He is a warrior at heart and a principled politician. He is consistently raising his voice against the acts of commission and omission by this government. He is not in power, yet his grasp of issues which matter is phenomenal. He goes to the root of every issue and problem and is open for discussions because he has the power of knowledge and honest intentions behind him.
What is the so-called dynasty behind Rahulji? He has always demonstrated the spirit of his forefathers and commitment to the values practiced by them without taking any undue advantage of his legacy. He has refused to sit in ivory tower and play the political game. He goes to people and listens to them and understands the ground reality and shapes his politics around issues of the people. His legacy is a selfless and sacrificial spirit, genuine love for the people and absence of fear while doing what he believes in. The reign of terror unleashed by this government is so overpowering that many stalwart politicians of different hues have chosen either to keep quiet or join the persecutors to gain protection. Rahulji has refused to keep quiet or compromise in any manner. He is consistently raising his voice against the misguided policies and haphazard decisions of this government consistently.
Rahulji is providing a moral leadership to the nation. When country has been failing on all grounds due to the centralised, unethical and autocratic model of governance, Rahulji offers us the model of ethics, sensitivity, team work and selfless service. A leadership that believes in the capabilities of his party collegues and gives them freedom to do the job. Country needs this model like never before. Rahulji is showing us the way out of this situation and we Congressmen have full faith in him. It is not an easy job being Rahul Gandhi today, yet he excels at it and is a beacon of hope for this nation.
(The author is Mumbai Regional Congress Committee Working President)