Rajat Sharma


akbElectioneering in Rajasthan has reached a crescendo, and already there has been a flurry of personal attacks and use of abusive words by some top leaders. On Tuesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi used the word ‘jebqatra’ (pickpocket) and ‘panauti’ (bad omen) for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi said, PM abbreviation stands for ‘Panauti Modi’. He was addressing an election rally in Rajasthan. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge described Modi as ‘maha-jhootha’ (big liar), while Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, the abbreviation of MODI stands for ‘Master Of Drama In India’. Till now, Congress and BJP leaders were busy sniping at one another in their speeches. They were criticizing the rival party’s policies and questioning their election ‘guarantees’. The debate was on local issues and leaders had refrained from personal attacks, but on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi launched personal attacks on Modi. Prime Minister addressed three rallies on Tuesday, Yogi addressed three and Amit Shah addressed two rallies, J P Nadda and other BJP leaders also campaigned, but none of them used abusive words against Congress leaders. The Congress released its manifesto promising LPG cylinder at Rs 400 for Ujjwala beneficiaries, Chiranjivi health insurance limit to be raised from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, free education for all till higher secondary level, minimum support price for farmers based on Swaminathan Commission and free laptops/tablets for students taking admission in govt colleges. In his speeches, Modi told voters that Congress is sure to lose this time in Rajasthan and the ‘magician’s magic will not work’. His jibe was at Ashok Gehlot, who was once a magician, before joining politics. Modi promised to send all ‘magicians involved in scams’ to jail, if BJP returned to power. Rahul Gandhi was in Barmer, where he used the words ‘pickpocket’ and ‘panauti’ for Modi. Rahul Gandhi said, our cricketers were playing well in the World Cup, but it was because of ‘panauti’ (bad omen) that they lost the final. He described Modi and industrialist Adani as “‘jebqatra’ (pickpockets) who are looting the nation’s money”. The Congress party put a meme on its official Twitter handle describing Modi as ‘panauti’. BJP campaign managers knew that Congress will start an anti-Modi trend after the World Cup final. In 2019, the ‘panauti’ (bad omen) trend was used when Modi was present at ISRO when Chandrayaan-2 failed to make a soft landing on the moon. After Rahul used the word ‘panauti’ for the PM, BJP hit out saying he appears to have lost his mental balance. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, ‘Congress seems to be desperate fearing imminent defeat in Rajasthan and its leaders are now resorting to abuses.’ On Wednesday, BJP delegation went to Election Commission and filed a complaint against Rahul for using the word ‘panauti’. Whatever Rahul said about Modi on Tuesday, cannot be justified neither politically nor from the point of view of public decency. It also does not make sense for good electoral campaign arithmetic, too. To describe the Prime Minister as ‘Panauti Modi’ is unacceptable. Nobody can justify this. Congress leaders attack Modi in their rallies, but they take care while using words against the Prime Minister. Then, why is Rahul Gandhi using such words? One needs to understand this. Rahul has been claiming since the last nine years that he is the only leader in the opposition, who is not afraid of Modi, he is the only brave person who has taken up cudgels against Modi. In closed door party meetings, Rahul even asked his own leaders why they were not making direct attacks against Modi. When Ghulam Nabi Azad was in the Congress party, he had faced similar situations too, and he later disclosed this. Group of 23 members had written a letter to Congress President complaining about how Rahul Gandhi had been taking such a tough stance. But Rahul did not yield. He continued with his personal attacks on Modi to project that he is the only brave leader who does not fear Modi. But in the process, Rahul scored several self-goals. On Tuesday, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge described Modi as ‘Jhoothon Ka Sardar’ (the leader of liars). He said, “ I lost my mother and siblings at the age of seven, I understand the trauma of losing one’s own, I never spoke against Modi’s father, but it is Modi who is telling lies, because he is the leader of liars.” The problem is, Congress leaders do not learn from past experiences. Let me recapitulate. In 2007, Sonia Gandhi had described Modi as ‘maut ka saudagar’ (merchant of death) during the Gujarat elections. The Congress lost badly. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi had described Modi as ‘Khoon Ka Dalaal’ (trader of blood), Mani Shankar Aiyar had described Modi as ‘ghatiya insaan’ who sold tea. The Congress lost the elections badly. Modi became Prime Minister after winning full majority. In 2017 Karnataka assembly elections, Aiyar had described Modi as ‘neech’. The Congress lost and BJP formed the government. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi at a Karnataka rally gave the slogan, ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ and asked why all ‘chor’ (thieves) have the Modi surname? He was later convicted by a Gujarat court. The Congress lost the Lok Sabha elections. Modi won with a resounding majority. In 2022 Gujarat election, Kharge described Modi as ‘Ravana’. The Congress lost. In spite of so many instances in the past, Congress leaders refuse to acknowledge the fact that the common voter on the street can hear all criticisms about Modi, but will never tolerate anybody abusing the PM. Till Tuesday, the Congress campaign in Rajasthan was going on smoothly and Ashok Gehlot was heading the campaign. Priyanka Gandhi was addressing her rallies. There were no controversies, but Rahul Gandhi spoiled the show. Local Congress leaders are worried whether Rahul’s words can prove to be an unexpected boon for the BJP. Maybe this is the reason why BJP leaders frequently say that so long as Congress has Rahul Gandhi has its leader, they need not worry. They say, it is Rahul who does half the work for their party. Modi took out a big roadshow on the streets of Jaipur on Tuesday night. Among the five states where assembly elections are being held, BJP has the biggest hope in Rajasthan. The Congress has been embroiled in intra-party squabbles for the last five years. Allegations relating to exam paper leak scams or the ‘red diary’ have been levelled against Ashok Gehlot, and these are proving to be cannon fodder for the BJP during the campaign. The brutal killing of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur by ‘jehadis’ and the riots during Hindu festivals in Rajasthan are being taken up as elections issues by Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath. Ashok Gehlot is responding to these attacks by laying emphasis on public welfare ‘guarantees’. Gehlot has been striving from the beginning to keep the campaign focused on local issues, but, by making direct attacks on Modi, Rahul has given BJP an unexpected gift. He has spoiled the magician’s plan.

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