File photo of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
First thing first. Rahul Gandhi is not a true politician. He simply is a mascot of the Congress party and all his actions and words are directed and scripted by his advisers and the party's few prominent veterans.
Notwithstanding above, whatever he says, reflects the stand of the party at the end of the day. Rahul's team decides his punch lines and issues, which he needs to raise and then he starts harping on them, rather mindlessly.
The latest of his persistent attack is that democracy is in serious danger under Modi and that Modi is subverting all democratic institution. Then he goes on and blames Modi and BJP for not letting Parliament function, which is such a barefaced propaganda as it is Congress who has been blocking Parliament right since 2014 when Modi assumed power.
Now coming back to Rahul's claim that democracy is being subverted by Modi. His audacity needs to be saluted. It is hilarious to say the least.
Rahul needs to peep into history and see how his father and grandmother handled the democratic values in this country in past.
Jawaharlal Nehru deserves an unequivocal credit for upholding the democracy in India and in the Congress. After the death of Patel in 1950, Nehru was the undisputed leader but he never took advantage of the situation. If democracy has been deep-rooted in India, then Nehru as the first premier (for good 17 years) is one of the biggest reasons.
But once Indira took over in 1966, situation veered in a different direction. Indira first subverted - rather curbed - internal democracy within Congress and converted party into a sort of family venture. She shunted all old Congress stalwarts ruthlessly.
If you believe that the moment when Indira imposed Emergency in 1975 was the only moment Congress tried to supress democracy in India, you are mistaken.
The decade of the 80s (1980-89) was the last time when the family member of Gandhi/Nehru family ruled the country. Indira from 1980 till 1984 (till her assassination) and Rajiv from 1984 till 1989, when VP Singh-led Janta Dal dethroned Congress.
During this period, Indira and Rajiv became undisputed power centres and democratic values took a complete back seat. Congress-led central government misused Article 356 of the Constitution in a brazen manner to topple non-Congress state governments, through Governors of states. All the Governors were basically picked by Indira/Rajiv on the sole criteria of their loyalty towards the family.
In 1984, Governor of Andhra Pradesh Thakur Ram Lal (a mediocre Congressman from Himachal but a big-time Indira loyalist) removed N T Rama Rao when the latter was in the US for a surgery. Thakur Ram Lal appointed a former Congressman Bhaskara Rao as chief minister. NTR hit hard after he came back from the US. After a month-long drama, Indira realised that this plan to thwart NTR would not work. She made Ram Lal a scapegoat and sacked him NTR forced his way to the power.
In April 1989, S R Bommai-led government in Karnataka was dismissed and President's Rule was imposed on frivolous and unjustified reasons. The matter went to court and the court decreed restrictions on the Centre's power to dismiss a state government under Article 356.
Not only Governor's office but the office of chief minister was also grossly undermined, particularly by Rajiv Gandhi. During 1984-89, Rajiv was appointing and replacing CMs in Congress-ruled states solely on his whims. His picks were not based on how strong connect the incumbent had with the ground and the state politics and again the sole criterion was his loyalty to Rajiv Gandhi. In Bihar alone, Congress had four chief ministers in five years during 1985-1990. Congress paid a heavy price of this immaturity of Rajiv Gandhi as the party lost people's connect in two largest states of UP and Bihar and never came to power after 1990 and today Congress is at the brink of extinction in these two states.
Coming to the institutions now. During 1984-89, state-run broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) virtually became a Congress-owned channel. During those days, DD used to air a 20 minutes news capsule and 10-15 minutes were covered for a recap of what Rajiv did during the day. As an ultimate epitome of politics of appeasement, Rajiv Gandhi enacted a law in Parliament after Supreme Court's ruling in regard to famous Shah Bano case. The law diluted or rather nullified ruling of India's highest court.
Rahul Gandhi needs to realise that there is no point making such statements. Given the past Congress has, Rahul can never create a narrative by raising this issue. In case BJP hits back with Congress's misadventures with democracy in the past (which PM does often, particularly in Parliament), Rahul will have no answer. Rahul Gandhi needs to ponder over what his father and grandmother did to the democracy in this country before he points the finger at others.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)