It is strengthening the perception among the people that the Nehru-Gandhi parivar just cannot bear to have someone from the working class occupy a position it considers its fiefdom.
An offence may be the best form of defence, but when an offence gets personal over and over again in an election season, it becomes the best form of self-goal. The Congress had become adept at kicking the ball in its own net by resorting to cheap, derogatory and distasteful comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but now it has displayed that it can get even more suicidal by dragging in the Prime Minister’s parents. It also shows that the party has run out of ideas to counter Modi and his Government.
Babbar claimed that his comparison was not derogatory to the Prime Minister’s mother but was made to merely reflect the rupee’s decline
The subject was the consistent fall in the value of the rupee as against the US dollar in recent weeks. Congress leader Raj Babbar considered it a legitimate topic to attack the Prime Minister, and he did. But instead of offering an informed opinion on the issue, he drew a comparison between the rupee’s value to Modi’s mother’s age, and said that soon the value would touch that age! It’s a sad state of mental bankruptcy which Babbar suffers from.
Now to another subject, another Congress man, and yet another cheap jibe. Vilas Muttemwar, party leader from Maharashtra wondered about the Prime Minister’s father’s status in public life. The entire nation knows about Rahul Gandhi’s father, he said. It also knows of Rajiv Gandhi’s father. It knows too about Indira Gandhi’s father. And it has heard of Jawaharlal Nehru’s father. Does anyone know of Modi’s father?
Clarifications were quick to come once the videos in which these comments were made, went viral. Congress leaders said that Modi too had criticised the Nehru-Gandhi family members. Babbar claimed that his comparison was not derogatory to the Prime Minister’s mother but was made to merely reflect the rupee’s decline. Muttemwar stated that his remarks were made in an internal party meeting and that the video the media showed was “distorted”. To contain the damage, Congress president Rahul Gandhi perfunctorily directed his party men not to make personal remarks.
It’s tempting to dismiss the remarks as those made by motormouths who understand no better. But the conduct of Congress leaders demonstrates something more than a foot-in-mouth disease
But the damage has been done, and these comments have given added ammunition to the Bharatiya Janata Party and Modi to reiterate that the Congress idolised the namdars (such as the Nehru-Gandhi members, privileged by family connections) and demeaned the kamdars (such as him, whose have risen in politics without similar patronage). It would also contribute to strengthening the perception among the people that the Nehru-Gandhi parivar just cannot bear to have someone from the working class occupy a position it considers its fiefdom.
The Congress’s clarifications are as bogus as their remarks are disgusting. Babbar could have made his point without bringing Modi’s mother into the picture. Muttemwar should know that in today’s India, people from the least privileged backgrounds have made it to the top in their respective professions and no one questions their family lineage. The fact that they have done so, despite the odds, is an achievement and not a matter to be ridiculed. As for the Congress’s retort that even Modi routinely takes potshots at the Congress dynasty’s family, the party must not forget that those targeted have been political figures — right from Nehru to Rahul Gandhi — and it’s fair enough for political rivals to be attacked. Neither the Prime Minister’s father nor his mother has been remotely connected with politics, though.
It’s tempting to dismiss the remarks as those made by motormouths who understand no better. But the conduct of Congress leaders demonstrates something more than a foot-in-mouth disease. It’s a reflection of their servility to a family, and in a democracy, this is indeed deplorable. And from this flows other responses. For example, the outrage among Congress circles over the Union Government’s move to use the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) premises to promote the contribution of all Indian Prime Ministers since Independence; or the construction of a statue in Gujarat (the world’s tallest) of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel; or the denial of adequate space to BR Ambedkar in the national narrative. It’s not a coincidence that both Sardar Patel and Babasaheb Ambedkar did not see eye to eye with Nehru on multiple issues and openly clashed with him.
There are more, recent instances. Recall the treatment the Nehru-Gandhi family loyalists gave to PV Narasimha Rao, even in his death. Rao’s fault was that he had charted his own course as Prime Minister, overturning much of the discredited socialist ventures of the Nehru-Gandhi rule, which had brought doom to the nation’s economy. Remember the humiliation Sitaram Kesri faced when he was summarily ousted as party president to make way for Sonia Gandhi to take over. Recollect the fate of a mid-level party worker, Shehzad Poonawala, who dared to question the opaque process of electing the party chief and decided to throw his hat into the ring against Rahul Gandhi.
If Mario Puzo were alive today, he would have found scintillating material to make a film on the ‘political mafia’ that the Nehru-Gandhi family represents.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.