Friday, January 17, 2014

The difference between a Rahul Gandhi and a Modi speech….

Rahul Gandhi delivered yesterday, one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard. His detractors have been forced to take note. The speech spread an immediate panic in the BJP, with twitter trolls getting into an overdrive to trash it – no doubt on instructions from their paying bosses. The media pundits – many of them BJP acolytes – were forced to sit up and acknowledge that a rousing speech could be delivered in a style so different from the type of guttural speeches that one has gotten used to hearing from Modi and Kejriwal.

The difference between a Modi speech and Rahul Gandhi’s was just that – the style. Not once did Rahul abuse Modi or anyone for that matter. Not once did Rahul say “BJP-mukt Bharat”, in retort to Modi’s constant “Congress-mukt Bharat” refrain; a refrain that reveals Modi’s fascist beliefs (that a particular party should simply not exist at all). This is a democracy and every party has a right to exist in India. The point about the Congress being a part of India’s genetic coding was well struck…..a party doesn’t survive for 125 long years unless it becomes a part of its people. And Rahul was right. Congress has become an idea, rather than a mere organization or party. An idea that, in contrast with all others on offer today, stands for 21st century values best described by words like “liberal”, “inclusive”, “decent”, “respectful of people” and other such. Like I mentioned…..all of these are in direct contrast with what the BJP stands for: “regressive”, “divisive”, “abusive” and “distrustful of people (why snoop otherwise?)”.

Rahul spoke like Obama. He spoke with a passion rarely seen in Indian politics; an even more rarely in Congress leaders. Like Obama, Rahul  roused his cadres bringing them to their feet. They hadn’t come to stop demanding Rahul be made PM, and they didn’t, especially during his speech when cries of “PM PM” rent the air. Who the PM candidate of the Congress is was on obvious display yesterday…..for all who observe politics. The party with its 125 years of experience had the courage to stick to its principles – that it chooses its PM only after winning the elections.

For a change, Rahul indulged in rhetoric, even though in small doses. Modi on the other hand is mostly about rhetoric. “My voice will be heard in Pakistan” is nothing but the loud but fearful cry from a coward sitting in the safety of his own backyard. The real voice is that of the jawans….fewest of whom come from Gujarat. When Modi screams “we need strong leadership”, its all rhetoric for we are immediately reminded of Godhra, Ishrat Jahaan and Gujarat’s sweetheart land deals with Adani. Some leadership! When Modi calls for “eliminating corruption”, we see the rhetoric in the images of Bangaru Laxman, Nitin Gadkari, Yeddyyurappa, Pokhriyal and scores more. When Modi extols the virtues of Sardar Patel, we see the rhetoric (and deceit) in the distance that separates the real iron man from the #feku. And when Modi says that there have been no communal riots during his rule in Gujarat, we know the rhetoric as we think of Muzaffarnagar. Even without any references to history, Modi’s speeches are full of lies. He’s comfortable with that…..for he knows that no one can question him….he doesn’t take any media questions after all! What he doesn’t know of course is that while the public may sometimes bow before a demagogue, they won’t vote for him. What he perhaps also doesn’t know is that Indians like to see decency in their leaders; and that’s where their votes flow.

One can see the difference between Modi and Rahul on their choice of “target groups” as well. Modi’s target is the “kattar” Hindu (the fringe elements of this great religion, who are orthodox and intolerant of other views); Rahul’s is the “poor classes”, who he wants to convert to “middle classes” in the next 5 years. Modi tomtoms his OBC credentials; Rahul never once spoke about his or anyone’s caste. Modi’s chances are only in the Hindi heartland, hence he speaks only in Hindi; Rahul’s appeal is nationwide, so he spoke in both Hindi and English. Modi’s biggest supporter is the abusive Hindu zealot; Rahul’s the ordinary decent, secular Indian lives happily as part of a heterogeneous society. Modi can only be a Hindu nationalist; Rahul cannot be anything but an Indian nationalist. See the difference…..everywhich way, Modi appeals to a sliver of the population; Rahul to the much bigger whole.

Rahul’s speech was all about the positive steps he has in mind, his vision. He wants 50% CMs to be women. He wants clean politicians to enter the fray. He wants the youth to take charge. He wants to work on better education. He wants to eliminate corruption….and he has a legislative plan. Importantly, Rahul says “others can complain; but we will deliver”. Modi on the other hand is just that: permanent cribber. Take away the opportunity to crib, and Modi will come a cropper; like Kejriwal in Delhi now.

The real truth is that Rahul Gandhi delivered a passionate and rousing speech…..without ever indulging in even an iota of indecency, a far cry from the usual gutter-level speeches we hear from Modi. Rahul has offered a liberal, secular and clean alternative to Modi. The Congress has found its leader. And the leader has rattled the BJP….

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