India Against Corruption



Rahul's power of silence

RAHUL'S POWER OF SILENCE By Prem Chandran Rahul Gandhi spoke at the CII, and what did we get from him? .....

: Oct 2012
: Adur, Kerala, India
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Thumbs up Rahul's power of silence


By Prem Chandran

Rahul Gandhi spoke at the CII, and what did we get from him? At best, he touched here, there and perhaps nowhere. As televisions beamed it live and news spread, there are those who see him as a visionary, and there are those who see him as no more than a nice, well-meaning individual: frank, forthright, and yet lacking in details. That, in a way, is a relief caught as we are in the midst of thick-skinned criminals, crooks, rowdies, mafia dons, highway robbers and even bandicoots posing as public servants and political leaders.

The relief, however, ends there. The worst part of the speech was he hardly gave a hint as to, given a chance, how he would effect a turnaround for this country. Nor did he touch upon any of the core issues of the day -- the issue of corruption and the hijacking of the development process, for one; or of the way forward for the business and the industry from a social context, or broadly of India’s standing in the emerging new world. He spoke, somewhat, in broad generalizations, and surprisingly refused to shoulder responsibilities -- putting issues back on the shoulders of the “one billion plus” to tackle them and set them right! In normal course, such a discourse coming from the heir to the throne must SHOCK us!

We had seen this as an opportunity; and we were disappointed. For, we are into an era of ‘mauni’ babas -- Rahul Gandhi himself being one; prime minister Manmohan Singh, despite his unquestionably wide knowledge, being another; and Sonia Gandhi, the real power behind the throne, being the third most perceptible of them. We get to hear little from them; and very little about the course the nation is taking, the pitfalls thereof, and about the dangerous situation we live in, buffeted as we are by hostile, almost unpredictable elements on at least two sides of the border; one engaged in a proxy war; and the other giving pin-pricks off and on.

Silence is golden, but silence can be deafening too. It is one way to skirt issues, or sweep things under the carpet. We, as a nation, expect to get to hear from those who lead us -- as to where we are, what ails us, and where we are heading for. But, our ‘mauni’ babas are of no help in this respect. And, finally when Rahul Gandhi chose to speak, we got little out of it.

Can one blame anyone, least of all Narendra Modi, for picking holes in Rahul Gandhi’s speech? And when Modi did it, he picked the biggest of the holes; and hit where it really hurts, namely, Rahul’s comparison of the nation as a beehive. Congress spokespersons are free to try and extricate the Crown Prince out of a tricky situation, but the damage was already done. What does one do with a beehive? One either takes the honey out of it; or, worse, the reckless ones would pelt stones at it and unleash chaos. Treating the nation as a beehive -- especially as the ruling classes are widely seen to be out looting public wealth, right, left and centre -- could be the height of one’s imagination running wild. Does it not rhyme well with the life and times of the uncouth hand-in-the-honeypot politicians, the large number of them being the products of the Congress (Indira) party itself?

The broad contours of the next general election battle are not visible yet, a distinct possibility being Rahul on one side and Modi on the other, though uncertainties persist on that count. The Delhi BJP chief eats his own words and goes on record to say the BJP would form the next government with LK Advani at its head, and not Modi; a Congress spokesperson makes it clear it would be a collective of Sonia, Manmohan and Rahul who would lead the next Congress poll juggernaut; and not Rahul per se. And an increasingly self-assuring Manmohan Singh is making it known to everyone that he would not rule out a third term for him. Yashwant Sinha was partly right when he said Manmohan Singh is an “overrated economist and underrated politician!” Singh has begun to show he’s not down and out; not yet!

If this climate persists, it effectively rules out a direct Modi-Rahul confrontation for the 2014 polls. Had it been the case, chances were also that, coming to the crunch, the youth of this nation would largely side with Rahul; not Modi. So do the minorities; so do the poor getting one-rupee rice; and so do the rural masses pampered by the Yojanas, wherein precious central funds are pumped in; giving Rahul a great edge, despite his perceived inadequacies. That is democracy, per se.

True, there are times when Markandeya Katju speaks sense; and one such was when he said the citizenry is made up mostly of fools. We as a society have been proving it election after election, voting with our foot, sending the most unworthy elements to our assemblies and parliaments, at the cost of sensible men and women who lose out; its most visible example being Manmohan Singh himself, who gets into parliament every time through the indirect Rajya Sabha route; or LK advani, who made a pilgrimage to Gujarat every time his term in Rajya Sabha ended. Democracy means the rule of the majority, unless leaders are crafty enough to manipulate verdicts.

In a democracy, speaking for the poor from public platforms or through the media alone would not suffice. Had it been the case, the Communists would have been ruling this country long, long ago. You must give crumbs, too, to the poor, the larger mass with voting power, which is what the Congress party is specializing in. The government has no money to push development; no money to create more employment opportunities; debts are piling; and it is expecting FDI – investments from abroad -- to increase money circulation and enliven the economy. But, it has a whole lot of money to give to the people by way of subsidies; and almost everyone in this country is entitled to one-rupee or two-rupee ration rice, with the exception perhaps of the Ambanis. Why? Because every pie thrown down the drain thereof turns into votes, and the Congress party, for one, will be laughing its way back to power, its vicious, vote-bank secularist platform too largely in tact!

So, when silence works, and you can silence people too with crumbs and other vote bank politics, why rake up issues, or open your mouth on finer elements of governance? If silence can win votes, why shout around? Or, why speak up and spoil the show?

Last edited by Premchandran; 04-08-2013 at 05:35 PM
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