Rahul Gandhi along with his various allies is in a severe attack mode; however, the attack is only based on falsified facts, fragmented logic and malicious character assassination
In recent times, “fear and falsehood” have become standard tactics to reshape voter’s perceptions and choices about rival political parties and leaders. The new strategic approach is based on the premise “Voters are not only motivated by false expectations – pre-poll promises – due to rising aspirations but also by fear and anger. All political parties have been employing the new strategy to achieve the end of gaining or retaining political power.
Rahul Gandhi chills in police station after courting arrest
In reality, ideologies, as ways and means, are irrelevant in Indian context. After all, pre and post-poll alliances are not based on ideological convergence. For example, the idea of Mahaghatabandhan (pre-poll alliance of opposition parties) is contra ideological convergence. Its end objective is to unseat Modi and the BJP ‘by hook or crook” from power more than societal interests and national security.
Importantly, political parties and leaders are invoking divisive societal rhetoric (divide and rule - based on caste, communal and class) to exploit to polarise voters. Add to them, use of money, liquor and muscle power to lure voters in the last 48 hours before actual polling – all unethical ways to gain power.
It is the only way to understand political leaders cutting across the opposition political spectrum increasingly taking to streets holding rallies, protests and bands to reshape people’s perceptions by bitterly/acrimoniously highlighting Modi’s autocratic style of functioning favouring crony capitalism.
Ways of War
As on date, Modi led BJP/NDA is mostly on reactive mode, mostly defensive, what with their spearhead, Modi, the PM, maintaining stoic silence to the verbal offensive directed against him by the opposition parties. Is Modi’s and the BJP silence strategic – lull before the outbreak of storm based on the unfolding of facts to steal the thunder out of the opposition ranks!
After all, there are many ‘skeletons in the cupboards’ that can be taken out to expose the corruption charges against the opposition party stalwarts. Who also knows about the strategy of Modi and the BJP to expose Rahul Gandhi’s unsubstantiated allegations of corruption in the “Rafale Deal”?
Rahul Gandhi in Ujjain- Temple Darsan, when election bell tolls
In contrast, at the forefront of the opposition parties is Rahul Gandhi (RG), aided by his think tanks - mostly aliens – replicating 24 x 365 rhetoric of Donald Trump’s “strategy of fear and falsehood”.
RGs focus or theme is simple. Modi, the PM, is his enemy number one. So, Modi-image bashing is RGs main thrust. The theme is based on “Modi as autocratic, corrupt and pro-capitalist leader under whom neo crony capitalists, right-wing communal and illiberal democratic forces are on the surge. For RG, if Modi’s image is denigrated, BJP/NDA is bound to collapse.
Rahul Gandhi's focus or theme is simple. Modi, the PM, is his enemy number one. So, Modi-image bashing is RGs main thrustRG is focused on “Rafale Deal”, and the latest CVC/CBI/IB battles. Let me emphatically highlight that Rafale issue will hog media limelight until elections in 2019, and die its natural death after that even if there is an iota of the truth of corruption against Modi. Also, the Supreme Court is bound to give its verdict lending clarity to the CVC/CBI controversy. Also, RGs attempt to don the “Soft Hindutva” image – falsehood/fraud - to endear to the Hindu majority while simultaneously balancing his rhetoric to appease the minority vote banks is also real.
Issues like terrorism/insurgency, gender equality, SC/ST rights, farmer’s suicides, remunerative farm prices, demonetisation, GST, mob lynching, cow vigilantism etc. have taken the back seat of his campaigning. Even more critical issues like education, health, armed forces modernisation, technology development, job opportunities etc., are meaningless. None of them is prepared to voice their concerns and plans to manage the key strategic challenge (mother of all strategic challenges) of demographic transitions – population explosion, migrations and identity crises.
What about Congress’ Performance?
Has RG ever highlighted Congress Party performance/achievements particularly 10-year UPA rule focus in his regular campaign rallies, tweets and press statements? Instead, RG seizes every opportunity to exploit cultural flashpoints and controversies, like the NRC, to energise his vote banks.
Has Rahul Gandhi ever highlighted Congress Party performance/achievements particularly 10-year UPA rule focus in his regular campaign rallies, tweets and press statements? RG’s strident “New Approach” – scare tactics - reflects bankruptcy of ideas. Instead, it provides glimpses of his autocratic and dictatorial personality behaviour. Only a façade of internal democracy at all levels in the Congress Party and other regional political parties that gets subverted from within; only dynastic handovers. RG is stoking fear of Muslims and Christian minorities and threatening retaliation against the media.
Not only, RG enjoys news media patronage due to Congress Party’s past close linkages with its owners and editors but stepped up his tirade on the social media network – daily recourse to tweets decrying Modi and the BJP. His cronies are now actively shaping social media to their strategic advantage. Bloggers and digital revolutionaries are at the vanguard of free speech; yet spreading fear of illiberalism.
Add to them, the so-called ‘Third Front” based on regional ‘satraps’ looking for an opportunity to provide an alternative option to the two national political alliances. Indian media, mostly partisan and sensational sans professional ethics, is full of delusional stories: terrorism, insurgency, scams/scandals, rapes, paid and partisan fraud and falsehood news coverage, disasters mostly human-made, and other negative news and views. Cumulatively and holistically viewed, they evoke ‘doomsday delusions” from a national security point of view, particularly rapid fears of downslide of liberal democracy. In the past, media pre and post-poll surveys have been proved wrong by people.
Add to them, individuals like Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, Arun Shourie and other civil activists like Prashant Bhusan spearheading a vicious campaign against Modi and the BJP. Caught betwixt highly volatile and conflicting views and news, it is unfair to assume that the “Aam Admi” will be able to make an informed choice at the ballot box based on accurate assessment of comparative past performance of political parties and leaders.
Viewed in the above background, forecasting and painting a chaotic and dangerous India to emerge due to ‘policy paralysis or poor governance’ based on distortions of facts and misleading claims, often through frightening and emotional appeals, as the panacea to win over voter’s to their side is patently wrong. Be that as it may, blending a mix of fact and fiction to instil fear in the electorate is, surely, not the right way to appeal to the voters.
In sum, the strategy of fear and falsehood may not sway people’s electoral choices beyond a point. Harking beyond a point may result in a backlash. A more nuanced debate and campaigning based on decorum and dignity may lend credibility to all political parties and pave the course for the success of democracy in modern India. Avoid and desist all political parties and leaders must raise the expectations and aspirations of people promising the moon to them beyond nation’s economic capability for it would result in a backlash at the next polls.