Famous American writer and political commentator, Walter Lippmann once said, 'the principle which distinguishes democracy from all other forms of government is that in a democracy the opposition not only is tolerated as constitutional but must be maintained because it is indispensable.'
The statement sums up the seriousness of the job that the opposition has in a democracy. In a multiparty democracy like India, the role becomes even more crucial to avoid the chaos that we more often witness. But the Congress party, after ruling the country for decades, seems to be doing all it can to amplify the chaos, with Rahul Gandhi leading it from the front.
When it comes to leading the party, the Congress conundrum is more profound than what it appears. Officially, Sonia Gandhi is heading the organisation, but unofficially Rahul Gandhi is in charge of the party. At least, this is what it looks like.
From reluctant politician to rent-a-cause opposition leader, the Congress scion is a curious case in the politics of the country. For years he remained a reluctant politician, then he fought two elections from a safe seat and gradually became the party president, then he lost an election from the safe seat (won from a different constituency though) and resigned as the Congress chief, suggesting that a non-Gandhi should better lead the party.
While the suggestion was made, no effort was initiated by the top leadership to elect a non-Gandhi leader. On the contrary, when a group of 23 senior Congress politicians came forward seeking to restructure the party in 2020, they were sneered at by the family loyalists and the Gandhis looked away.
Interestingly, in his defense, Rahul Gandhi has begun to remind the critics of dynastic politics that the last time a member of his family was a Prime Minister was over 30 years ago. Perhaps, he hinted that his time has come. But he seems to have grown desperate recently. And in his desperation, he appears to be on a renting-a-cause spree. He jumps the gun on everything under the sky, turns 180 degrees on any subject, and knows no bounds in swearing at the government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rahul Gandhi makes mistakes and doesn't learn from them. Before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he made a campaign of 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' phrase and not only his party lost the elections miserably but he also had to express his regret over it in the Supreme Court. Now, he calls the Prime Minister coward (kaayar) and traitor (gaddar) over the India-China border standoff and gets flak from all quarters.
There is a difference between criticism and insult
Someone should make Rahul Gandhi understand the difference between criticism and insult. Sonia Gandhi may better describe it to him who hurled 'Maut Ka Saudagar' phrase at Narendra Modi in the run-up to the 2007 Gujarat assembly elections and her party was summarily defeated by the people. Once bitten twice shy, she never repeated that mistake.
Criticism demands an understanding of the issues and the courage to take a stand on the matters, showing consistency and patience, not the eagerness to create commotion and chaos throwing around abuses like 'Chor', 'Kaayar' and 'Gaddar'.
Rahul Gandhi should accept the fact that PM Modi has got the mandate to rule the country which the Congress leader would also need if he wants to become the next Prime Minister in 2024. And to get that mandate he will require to win the hearts of the people. Sadly, it doesn't happen by insulting your political rivals, but by laying the groundwork. Rahul Gandhi must begin it by putting his house in order first by officially taking the reins of his party and ending the infighting in the Congress.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV )