New Delhi: The founding fathers of Indian constitution would never have imagined that the sanctum sanctorum of world’s largest democracy would one day be used to settle legal disputes.
Even those Political commentators who generally sympathise with Congress in its ideological battle against BJP are finding it difficult to fathom why the grand old party is not allowing Parliament to function on an issue that has to be fought in courts of law.
And what is the provocation? It’s the refusal of the Delhi High Court to exempt Sonia and Rahul Gandhi from appearance in National Herald case that allegedly involves corruption to the tune of Rs. 5000 Crore. The Court has now asked Sonia, Rahul and other senior leaders of Congress who have been made accused in this case to appear before the lower court on December 19.
On December 7, after the court asked her to appear in court along with her son and other colleagues named in this case, Sonia Gandhi suddenly realised that it’s time to remind her political opponents that she was the daughter-in-law of the legendary Indira Gandhi and that she is not scared of anyone.
Prima facie, National Herald case appears to be purely a legal case which should be fought in a court of law. It involves legal intricacies that should be left for the legal luminaries and courts to debate and come to a conclusion. Then why disrupt parliament on this matter?
On December 9, Sonia’s son and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi minced no words in accusing Modi government of deliberately targeting Gandhi family in this matter. He termed it a case of ‘political vendetta ‘and held PM Modi directly responsible for this act of vengeance.
"One hundred per cent political vendetta. This is pure political vendetta coming out of the PM's office. It is their way of doing politics,” Rahul Gandhi fumed.
Even eminent historian and political commentator Ramchandra Guha, who is well known for his dislike for PM Modi and BJP is not able to digest the explanation that Congress has come up with to justify disruption of parliament.
“Congress has no business raising in Parliament what is a private matter over a trust controlled by the Gandhis. It is a matter for the courts, and the government has nothing to do with it,” Guha told The Hindu.
Actually, it seems that both Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul have decided to convert the crisis arising out of ‘National Herald case’ into an opportunity.
Perhaps finding themselves on a sticky wicket in this case, they seem to make political capital by projecting themselves as the victims of political conspiracy hatched by none other than the Prime Minister himself.
According to a media report, Rahul Gandhi has made up his mind to go to jail along with his mother and others and convert this purely legal battle into a political one.
According to these reports, Rahul plans to spend time in jail by refusing to seek bail once he is incarcerated. He knows that it will generate sympathy in favour of the Gandhi family that may discredit Modi government and turn the fortunes of Congress party which faced historic rout in 2014 general elections.
Is he trying to follow the path that her grandmother Indira Gandhi had so successfully treaded to make a spectacular comeback after her massive defeat in post-emergency 1977 General Elections?
After the Morarji Desai-led Janata Party sent Indira Gandhi behind bars after her party’s defeat, a massive sympathy wave emerged in her favour. The public resentment became so high that two people hijacked a Delhi-bound Indian Airlines plane in UP and demanded Indira Gandhi’s release.
Interestingly, the passangers of the plane developed what is known as ‘Stockholm syndrome’ as they sympathised with the two persons who forced the pilot to diverte the plane. It’s a different story that these two gentlemen were later rewarded by Congress party with party tickets in Assembly elections and they emerged victorious as well.
But can that history be repeated once again and that too just because Sonia Gandhi is Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law? Does she have the same charisma?
What Sonia and Rahul have perhaps failed to realise that despite her aggressive and abrasive approach, India Gandhi was admired by people for her certain achievements like nationalisation of banks and victory in 1971 war.
Indira was an astute politician who lost no time in staging a march in Belchi, a remote area in Bihar, after some dalits were killed. She had this knack of connecting with the common man.
And what can also not be overlooked is that Narendra Modi is no Morarji Desai.
Sonia and Rahul realise that they don’t have the similar charisma but what makes them so confident of the success of their combative approach is their number in the upper house of parliament.
After forcing the government to backtrack on land acquisition in parliament, the Congress party’s morale has further gone up with BJP’s humiliating defeat in Bihar Assembly elections.
The belligerent approach of Congress in Rajya Sabha has brought back the spectre of policy paralysis that had become the hallmark of Manmohan Singh-led UPA-II.
Congress party also realises that without its cooperation in Rajya Sabha where NDA is in hopeless minority, the govt can’t get GST bill passed. The government was hopeful of Congress party’s support after PM Modi invited Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for ‘chai pe charcha’ but the National Herald case seems to have poured cold water on its dreams.
After realising that disrupting parliament on National Herald case is not going down well even with sympathisers, Congress has publically clarified that the logjam has nothing to do with the summoning of its top leadership by court in NH case which is being pursued by one of the BJP members.
Political commentators, however, have not missed the reading between the lines. Why should Congress offer a helping hand to a government which is not doing enough to protect its supreme leaders. After all, Enforcement Directorate (ED) is a wing of the government machinery and it can swing the ball either way. And above all, the Congress may be wondering why BJP is not taming Subramanian Swamy who is leaving no stone unturned in discrediting the grand old party.
Now Prime Minister Modi has to take a call. He can refuse to compromise on an issue that has shades of both corruption and criminal offence, come what may, or bail the Congress leaders out of the legal wrangling.
For the time being, Sonia Gandhi, the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, believes it’s a win-win case for her as she has nothing to lose.