'Behind the BJP's anti-Congress crusade is an attempt to divert attention from the Ladakh standoff,' explains Amulya Ganguli.
Illustrations Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
The vehemence of the BJP's attacks on what the party appears to consider as its foremost enemies -- the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty -- is self-explanatory.
Among the fiercest of critics is the former heroine of a trashy, though popular, soap opera and now Union minister, Smriti Irani.
Considering that even a BJP-friendly TV anchor was constrained to accuse her of 'hitting below the belt' when Irani questioned Rahul Gandhi's mental prowess, her animus against the Congress's first family is crystal clear.
Now, she is engaged in a vitriolic diatribe at the BJP's so-called virtual rallies in which she has accused Sonia Gandhi of accepting funds from the Chinese for the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
According to Irani, the Congress's interim president left 'no stone unturned to loot the country for her children'.
The minister is not the only one in her party to spout anti-Congress vitriol.
The BJP's national general secretary, P Murlidhar Rao, told another virtual rally that the Congress's mother-and-son duo were interested in 'politics' and not in the army's 'well-being' when they criticised the Centre on the faceoff in Ladakh.
Rao had a dig at the Congress's ally in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, when he wanted to know why the DMK is not criticizing 'taking money from China for RGF'.
Rao's question to DMK leader M K Stalin is 'Why are you associating with this party?'
It doesn't take much perspicacity to understand that behind the BJP's anti-Congress crusade at the virtual rallies as well as in real life by the party's past and present chiefs, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Jagat Prakash Nadda, is an attempt to divert attention from the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh where the Indian Army is engaged in staving off Chinese incursions.
It cannot be gainsaid that the multiple crises which the government is facing at the moment on the health, economic, diplomatic and security fronts are unprecedented.
While the coronavirus is still raging, the economy is in dire straits, India's relations with its two friendly neighbours -- Nepal and Bangladesh -- are frayed and China has trashed all the diplomatic attempts that were being made to repair India's ties with it.
It is odd that at such a time when the government's efforts should have focussed on untangling these critical knots, the ruling party should be so preoccupied with running down a party which, by the BJP's own admission, is in a condition of disarray under an interim president and a sulking former chief who is derided as 'Pappu' or an adolescent dilettante who cannot be taken seriously.
Yet, the viciousness of Irani's and Rao's speeches at the virtual rallies underlines a latent fear of the Congress's hidden potential to upset the BJP's apple cart.
Is this because the BJP is aware that 62.6 per cent of the electorate did not vote for it in 2019 when the party's vote share was 37.4 per cent?
True, many of the other parties which won were the BJP's allies or were favourably disposed towards it like the Biju Janata Dal or the YSR Congress.
But, still, a 60-plus percentage is a lot if the tide turns.
It is also possible that the venom directed at the Nehru-Gandhis, particularly in Irani's invective, is explained by the fact that Rahul Gandhi has been consistently targeting Narendra Damodardas Modi, ignoring the party's belief stemming from the 'maut ka saudagar' and 'chowkidar chor hai' fiascos in 2002 and 2019 that a direct attack on the prime minister is counter-productive.
Moreover, Rahul has come to the forefront of the anti-BJP campaign, leaving all the other Opposition leaders far behind who have either been silent or are quietly playing the BJP's tune like Sharad Pawar.
'Pappu' has shown, therefore, that there is virtually no one else who is willing to stand up to the BJP.
Hence, the bile at the BJP's virtual rallies.
Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.
Feature Production: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com