Desertion in Congress: Drawing comparisons between Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao and Narendra Modi

    10-Jun-2021   
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New Delhi: June 9th is politically important. Jitin Prasada joined BJP on Wednesday.
 
In 2013, on June 9 coincidentally, the BJP had decided to make Modi the chairman of its election campaign committee for the battle of 2014.
 
The Congress party has hit headlines for wrong reasons once again. Jitin Prasada, a former aide of Rahul Gandhi and a ‘young Turk, has deserted the grand old ship and joined the BJP. In his maiden press conference at BJP headquarters on Wednesday, June 9, after joining the saffron party, Prasada eloquently summed up the reason for his move and said, “In today’s politics, if at all there is a pan-India party it is the BJP; all others are either regional-based or personality-oriented”.
 
In a hard-hitting message for the Congress party, Prasada further said: “If you cannot work for your people, then what is the use of staying put in politics and in a particular party. It is not important which party I am quitting, it is more crucial to appreciate which party I am joining today”.
 
Of course, all these point towards a non-performance or for that matter negative performance of Rahul Gandhi.
Taking these comments in a context perhaps it would be in fitness of things to analyse and compare the situation(s) of Indian politics under three Prime Ministers – Narendra Modi, P V Narasimha Rao and Rajiv Gandhi.
 
On June 21, 1991, P V Narasimha Rao took over as Prime Minister after the general elections that were marred by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
 
Now in circa 2021 as we look back, there is definitely merit to look at the ‘India Story’ in the last three decades since 1991 – when the Rao government had initiated the liberalisation policy.
 
To many, the calendar year 1991 marked a significant year and marked a major turning point like 1947.
The month of June is also important as there was an Emergency in 1975.
 
Rao definitely deserves some credit for anchoring the world’s largest democratic country during such a challenging period of its history.
 
Indian politics was coming out of Mandal-Mandir conflicts, the economy was in shambles and at international fora, India’s prestige had taken a beating.
 
The Congress party – of course - never gave him the credit that was due. One reason was that the grand old party believed it was Rao who had frustrated the Muslim voters away from it due to Babri demolition.
 
Another reason was guided by the thought process amongst Congress ‘darbaris’ that as a ‘performing PM’, Rao had certainly out shined Rajiv Gandhi in more ways than one.
 
Analysing Rajiv’s tenure, it may be pertinent to focus on how he fared as a mother’s son (Indira Gandhi) or as the father of his own son (Rahul) in terms of perspective, performance and then the results.
 
To many and more because of the record mandate he got, Rajiv Gandhi – first post-Independence generation PM- could have transformed India.
 
But practically he did nothing – other than blunders like Shah Bano case and then mishandling of ‘good mood for peace deals’ in Punjab and Assam.
 
If Rahul Gandhi has been losing elections, so has been his father Late Rajiv Gandhi too.
 
Rajiv had also erred in Sri Lanka, of course, the foundation of these errors was laid by Indira Gandhi – who perhaps thrived in pursuing an agenda of creating troubles for all neighbouring countries. Bangladesh was of course Indira Gandhi’s singularly big success tale.
 
The reforms brought by P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh duo actually unleashed a new kind of entrepreneurs who was willing to bet and take risk. India was changing.
 
All these could have come between 1984 and 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi was in power.
 
Now comes the present era under Narendra Modi.
 
His “positive” achievements have salutary impact and are more interesting. A large section of the ever sceptical middle class perceives Narendra Modi as a ‘super-CEO’. Modi has an image of a leader who functions like a modern day CEO laying emphasis on the outcome and often allegedly putting the rules and normal norms in the back burner.
 
Look at the manner he got rid of the scandalous Article 370 vis-a-vis Kashmir. PM Modi’s stint has been equally emphatic and decisive in legislating a law against Triple Talaq and how the age-old Ayodhya dispute has been ended with a court verdict favouring the construction of a grand Ram temple.
 
Even with the Covid crisis, in which his detractors are waiting in the wings for him to fail, Modi has turned the table more than once.
 
The latest case is, of course, his announcement of a centralised vaccination drive for all adults above the age of 18. For a change, even bitter critics of the Prime Minister including the communist and Congress party leaders have welcomed the new move.
 
"The Honourable Prime Minister's declaration that Covid-19 vaccine will be supplied free of cost to the States from 21 June, is the most appropriate response at this hour," said Marxist veteran and Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan.