Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Commander-in-Thief’ Jibe by P. Ravindran Nayar SignUp

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Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Commander-in-Thief’ Jibe
by P. Ravindran Nayar Bookmark and Share

Is Rahul Gandhi proving, day by day, that he is profoundly unsuitable to lead the country? The language he uses, the choice epithets he chisels out of his fertile mind and the very body language he employs are all, to say the least, unbecoming of a public man. Whether within the country or abroad he is wont to hurl choicest abuses at the Prime Minister, the latest specimens of his and his party's name calling being ‘Commander-in-Thief,’ 'Chowkidar Chor Hai,' ‘ Modi Baba and Forty Thieves’ etc, forgetting the fact that such crass abuses not only debase the person targeted but also demean the nation as a whole.

There is perhaps no country in the world, developed or developing, democracy or monarchy or dictatorship, where the main opposition leader uses such unwholesome and totally unacceptable epithets to attack the Prime Minister or President in office, and get away with it. There may be corruption scandals, or widespread opposition to the incumbent Prime Minister, but when making public pronouncements against him the normal, civilized practice is to observe decorum in behavior and good taste and good form in comments. Not to let the tongue go astray and use a vocabulary that is inappropriate to the core.

Even in India it is definitely for the first time that a Prime Minister is facing such infantile abuse from the leader of the main opposition party. Of the former Prime Ministers of India three are closely related to the abuser leader. They are Rajiv Gandhi, his father, Indira Gandhi, his grand-mother, and Jawaharlal Nehru, his great grandfather. All of them had greatness in different measures and major flaws too in different measures. But none of their opponents called them names the way Rahul Gandhi goes about doing day in and day out now. It is certainly not because of the greatness of those Prime Ministers but because of the goodness, and civility, of the then opposition party leaders. They maintained decorum in their accusations even in the case of the rabid Emergency regime of Indira Gandhi and the Bofors scandal that rocked Rajiv Gandhi.

It must not have struck Rahul Gandhi that whatever epithets he was hurling at the Prime Minister now would have perfectly fit his own father Rajiv Gandhi when he was embroiled in the Bofors scam. But the then opposition party leaders never called Rajiv Gandhi ‘Commander-in Thief’ or described him and supporters as ‘Rajiv Baba and Forty Thieves.’

What the people expect from a political leader, especially one having Prime Ministerial ambitions, are certain impeccable qualities, like uprightness and honesty, efficiency, boldness and charisma. He should be forthright in speech and decisive in action. Failure in any of these aspects, as also loose tongue and flippant talk, as in the case of Rahul Gandhi, would alienate the people from him.

Dynastic credentials are good only to impress old faithfuls. Nothing more in the present circumstances. It is altogether a different ball game to achieve success as a Prime Minister. The earlier Rahul Gandhi realized this, the better. It is imperative that he shows more maturity, tact and diplomacy in dealing with political issues and political opponents. Good home work, including reading of the great books by his great grandfather, like The Discovery of India, would surely help him groom himself better and disprove such snide retorts from the ruling dispensation about him being just a ‘political brat.’

It is for him to prove that he has the statesmanship of Nehru, the resourcefulness and decisiveness of Indira Gandhi (not of course her ruthlessness) and the charisma of Rajiv Gandhi. But for this he has to work really hard -- working differently, thinking differently and speaking differently.

The level of political discourse in India is already touching almost the nadir, thanks to the pedestrian fusillades between rival political combinations. It will be good for the country if all  concerned ensure that it is not lowered any further, any longer.

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