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Sai's Take: Rajiv attack: Modi desperate?

May 07, 2019 11:39 IST

'Does the BJP opening up a new assault on Rajiv Gandhi indicate that the BJP's internal calculations are pointing to the election results not going as it hoped, and hence a sign of desperation?' asks Saisuresh Sivaswamy.

Rajiv Gandhi addresses an election meeting in Kishanganj, Bihar. Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

IMAGE: Rajiv Gandhi addresses an election meeting in Kishanganj, Bihar. Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

For all those Bharatiya Janata Party fans who thought the problems of the nation began and ended with Jawaharlal Nehru, and that 50 years more is needed to undo the mistakes of the past 70 years, here's a new name to add to their pantheon of hatred.

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, as Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has discovered in the middle of the election campaign, after four phases of polling were over in fact, was the original 'chor' and that the Congress did not have in it to fight the remaining two phases of elections in the name of its leader who was assassinated way back in May 1991.

Meanwhile, all those who expected that the elections will be fought on substantive issues, on a vision for the future, can go back to sleep, the nightmare is still not over.

For who knows what else the ruling party, now clearly fighting the election on the backfoot after no less than its senior leader Ram Madhav has hinted at the BJP securing a majority along with its allies -- not on its own, mind -- will now come up in its attempt to discredit the past so that the present can seem rosy and the future can still be sold on a dream of correcting the wrongs.

 

But what about nation-building, did you ask?

It is a tough ask of those who mistake the term for the physical construction of highways and superfast railway networks. Nations, they don't realise, are built not on the back of physical infrastructure but on the moral and ethical timbre that the leadership infuses into the conduct of State.

And that, woefully, has been the biggest failure of the party that once claimed to be one with a difference, bigger than its failure on the economic or policy front. This is a government of out-shouters, not the out-performers we were led to believe in 2014.

The prime minister's disinterring of Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi may have shocked and stunned his old associates. Sam Pitroda, entrusted by the then prime minister with the task of revolutionising the nascent telecom sector, seemed to be close to tears on India Today TV on Monday night, telling Rajdeep Sardesai, 'You are my prime minister, too. Have some decency, please.'

Decency, alas, is going to be in short supply, at least till the next two phases of electioneering are over, and who knows, possibly beyond as well.

Sai's Take

For the bitterness of the last five years, accentuated by the vitriolic and cheap election campaign that we have seen so far when nothing, nothing at all, was considered a no-go area, is going to be terribly difficult to wash away even with a liberal dose of the newly-cleansed Gangajal.

Who knows, if the election results do throw up a surprise -- of a kind that even Ram Madhav did not foresee -- the polity is in for a time of acrimony the likes of we did not see even in the dying days of the Rajiv Gandhi regime.

The BJP's Amit Malviya harked back to those days on India Today TV when he recalled the election slogan from back then -- 'galli galli mein shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai' -- to justify his party digging up the past.

The message was clear: You say 'tu chor', we will say 'tera baap chor'.

Taken together, do Ram Madhav's statement and the BJP opening up a new assault route on Rajiv Gandhi, indicate that the BJP's internal calculations are pointing to the election results not going as it hoped, and hence a sign of desperation, of a collective reminder to the Opposition that once upon a time not too long ago their enemy was the Congress, not the BJP?

Naturally, the Congress's Sanjay Jha was very clear that it was indeed so, when he told Bhupendra Chaubey that the 'BJP was falling, and falling fast'.

At least on one TV channel, it was a no-debate on who was guilty. Leading with the hashtag #BhrashtracharDebate, Republic TV had an array of 'experts' each talking at each other, making it unclear as to who was saying what or why.

It was just a babel of voices, something akin to what India is in election mode. Just as in India during election time, on Republic TV too there is a notional helmsman trying to seemingly restore order, but who really is contributing to the chaos.

'I decided to not raise my voice tonight but you leave me with no choice,' Arnab Goswami told his obstreperous guests in no uncertain terms, before turning up the decibel level a notch or two.

The Congress's Pawan Khera's entreaty on India Today TV, that 'Elections come, elections go, we have won elections, we have lost elections, but please don't lose control' is a piece of advice that suits our vaunted TV stars during poll time and beyond.

But two TV channels showed what gets drowned out when non-issues such as who was the bigger thief dominate the election discourse.

On Mirror Now, Faye D'Souza kept the focus firmly away from nonsense and drivel, and on the aftermath of Cyclone Fani's devastation in Odisha. She had brought in representatives of the state government and the NDRF, who were very responsive to the problems raised.

A quick look at the morning newspapers shows how the human tragedy that is still unfolding in the eastern region has been overshadowed by all the name-calling and descent into crassness.

The other imagery was from NDTV India, the Hindi channel, where Prannoy Roy and his team were on the field in Uttar Pradesh, focusing on the deprivation in Dalit lives.

When an extremely articulate 7th standard girl told Roy and Co in a normal voice, 'We have no income, so what do we eat?' and holds up an empty gas cylinder -- given under the government's successful Ujjwala scheme -- and says the family has no money for a refill, the truth hits you.

Not of the real India -- that truth cannot be hidden, lying as it does just a 100 km outside any of our gleaming metros -- but of the miasma of hate, disinformation lies, distortion, calumny that is spread during election time.

More than the fog of war, beware the fog of elections.

SAISURESH SIVASWAMY / Rediff.com
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