The 7 avatars of Pappu

Congress President and great 2019 Liberal Hope Rahul Gandhi is really bad software which keeps updated with endless versions. Nobody has probably received more image makeovers than him…

1. The Sphinx (Pre-2004)

Sphinx egypt-1179196_960_720The Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty is treated like royalty and shrouded in secrecy. Their Right to Privacy trumps the fundamental rights of 1.36 billion Indians. Before 2004 nobody knew anything about both Pappu and sister Priyanka and who would enter politics and whether both of them would.

Pappu was treated with kid gloves and travelled all over the world in his private cocoon, the security of which was sponsored by the Government of India. He was always seen as a future Prime Minister of India, though who was always in Priyanka’s shadow as she had captured the public imagination at that time.

2. The Gentleman (2004)

Suited man-3022704_960_720Pappu entered politics with a bang. A great debut. A win in Amethi. A Congress Prime Minister. After his mother turned down the Prime Minister’s post, he officially became the Heir Apparent and got far more respect in the Congress party than Prime Minister Manmohan ever could.

Pappu cultivated a calm gentlemanly political narrative and rarely got angry or engaged too much with any politician or media house. Then he got a triple whammy in the 2007 elections. He was promoted to Congress General Secretary, Chairperson of Indian Youth Congress and National Students Union of India.

3. The Statesman (2009)

Podium-1889056_960_720This is probably his peak. Pappu campaigned in many Lok Sabha constituencies and Congress saw an unexpected jump from 145 to 206 seats. The media and public went with the Singh is King Nuclear Deal narrative, but that was thrown into the dustbin within the Congress and full credit was given to Pappu.

In fact some even boasted that Manmohan would be kicked upstairs to the India President’s post in 2012, Pappu would be made Prime Minister and lead the Congress to 272+ seats in the 2014 elections. Many bought into this narrative.

4. The Angry Young Man (Run up to 2014)

Angry emoticon-1669804_960_720However that fell apart in 2010 with the Commonwealth Games scam which looked as damaging as Bofors at that time. However 2011 proved to be worse with the 2G scam and Anna Hazare’s August Kranti. It was all over by the 2012 Coalgate scam.

Pappu was protected. The party now became scared to announce him as Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014. Since the people were angry, Pappu was presented as the new Angry Young Man. He would roll up his sleeves, sport a stubble, rant and rave like a commoner and even tear up ordinances on a public stage.

But the Indian public in general and Twitter in particular saw him more of a comedian than a real life version of Amitabh Bachchan.

5. The Confused Young Man (2014 onward)

question road-sign-63983_960_720Everyone expected the BJP to win and Congress to lose, but the sheer magnitude of the loss shocked everyone. The lowest Lok Sabha seats the Congress ever got before 2014 was 114 and the highest the BJP got was 182.

So for the BJP to thrash Congress 282-44 was unprecedented and threw the Grand Old Party off guard. And also Pappu and his advisors? Was he the Great Unifier that would bring all the opposition together and challenge Modi? Or was he the Lone Ranger.

Was he the #KhaatPeCharcha “commoner” who would resonate with the masses? Was he the Angry Young Man Sequel returning to his rolled up sleeves and stubble ranting and raving at the establishment? Well he kept changing like a chameleon and the random changing colours made everyone’s head spin. Then he was also presented as a janeudhari Brahmin to appeal to the masses!

6. The Congress President (2017)

Tick mark-1013981_960_720Pappu paas ho gaya! Whether you like it or not, Pappu finally became the top ranking opposition leader. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati are powerless. Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha are no more. Nitish Kumar is with NDA and KCR may go that way too after 2019. Chandrababu Naidu has accepted Pappu as his master. Arvind Kejriwal is a bigger joke. Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee are confined to their respective states.

With Sonia Gandhi stepping down from the party President’s post, Pappu is finally the undisputed numero uno in Opposition India. Of course it’s not that his personal stature has grown, but the fact that everyone has shrunk around him!

7. The Great Hope (2019)

superhero-2503808_960_720Make no mistake. The media, intellectuals and Liberals still hate Prime Minister Narendra Modi with all their hearts and souls. In the run up to the 2019 general elections, all of Pappu’s gaffes, jokes, mistakes, foh pahz, misdemeanours… will be totally forgotten and he will be presented fresh for the umpteenth time as the Great Hope of 2019 (the Great Hope of 2014 that was created in 2009 will be simply repackaged).

Why the Indian Congress is its own biggest enemy

aged-2181887_960_720When we got Independence, the Congress Party was the Freedom Movement and the Freedom Movement was the Congress Party. They seemed destined to rule forever and could have been in power today, but nobody spoils the fortunes of the party like itself.

A look at some of these things…

Congress was invincible till the 1970s, but imposed Emergency and that created the Janata Party which became the first ever non-Congress government at the Centre.

It has been more than 40 years since Emergency. And today it could well be called the most disastrous move it made in retrospect. Till 1975 the Congress strode like a colossus at the Centre. No other party could dream of even being a strong Opposition let alone a ruling dispensation for at the Centre. Then Indira Gandhi gave the rest of the parties a huge lifeline.

Indira imposed the Emergency and this led to her fall and the first non-Congress government at the Centre in 1977. The Janata Party may have disintegrated in 1980, but its successor Janata Dal and all its factions ruled first from 1989-91 and then 1996-98.

prison-553836_960_720But the biggest result of the Emergency is rarely discussed: The formation of the BJP. The RSS was formed in 1925 and was rudderless after Independence for some time. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 but wasn’t that effective till 1977.

The RSS powered the protests that led to the Emergency, the 1977 government gave a solid political direction to the Sangh Parivar and it marched on after 1980 to become the dominant political party in India in 2014 having first tasted power in 1996 at the Centre.

Congress became invincible yet again after the Janata Party imploded, but created the Ramjanmabhoomi problem thereby boosting the BJP.

Under Jawaharlal Nehru, Ram idols appeared in the mosque premises. Under Rajiv Gandhi, the locks to the complex were removed to counter the Shah Bano case appeasement. Under PV Narasimha Rao the Sangh Parivar managed to knock down the domes right under the Centre’s eyes.

The Ramjanmabhoomi problem was created and sustained by the Congress and maximum progress happened only due to the action/inaction of various Congress Prime Ministers. But only one entity benefited politically from all of the above: The Sangh Parivar.

Durga Puja 2645104_960_720Congress brutalized the Naxalites and hence is out of West Bengal for nearly 40 plus years.

When the Naxalite movement came up in West Bengal, the ruling Congress government used such brute force, that they lost the State forever. Today it is out of power in the State for a whopping 40 years and look in no position of forming a government in the future.

Congress made a comeback in Punjab in 1980 but single-handedly created the Punjab problem.

Punjabi man-762211_960_720Why Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay wanted to deal with a person like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale we will never know. But they kept backing him and making him more and more powerful till he turned against them. The Centre launched a military operation against the Golden Temple more than once. The Khalistan problem became a raging one. Finally Indira herself was assassinated, leaving an inexperienced Rajiv, who squandered a majority Congress rule at the Centre for good.

Congress became pally with the LTTE and they assassinated Rajiv.

Bhindranwale wasn’t the only such person that the Congress dealt with. Another was LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran. The story is that during an Indo-Sri Lanka meet when the Lankan authorities heard that India was hosting Prabhakaran, they were livid.

There were reports of India giving financial aid to the LTTE and aid was dropped in their territories against the will of the Lankan government. The Indian government soon turned against Prabhakaran and he took his revenge by assassinating Rajiv.

Congress backed Bal Thackeray to counter Communists and he ended Congress majority rule for good in Maharashtra in 1995.

Mumbai victoria-station-390633_960_720When Shiv Sena’s Bal Thackeray emerged in the 1960s instead of countering him, the Congress secretly backed him in a bid to counter the Communists. In fact it was in the 1980s that Thackeray and Congressman Sharad Pawar joined hands to finish off the unions.

Thackeray had the last laugh though. A Shiv Sena Chief Minister was sworn in in 1995 and after that the Congress has not had a single majority government in Maharashtra, a State which it had really dominated till that year right from Independence. Subsequently we had the first BJP Chief Minister in 2014.

Congress still had the largest political network in 2014, but is totally decimating it for 2019.

The Congress always returned after being booted out at the Centre. 1980. 1991. 2004. These are three such momentous years. However 2014 seems to be a year with a difference. What many people don’t realize that though the Congress lost in 2014, it still had the most MLAs across the country and the largest organizational network and that with the greatest money and muscle power.

Instead of consolidating that and making a comeback, the party backed the disastrous mother-son Sonia-Pappu duo to the hilt, started decimating leaders at the regional level and attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi 24X7 instead of coming out with a coherent effective strategy to regain their paramount national status.

parliament-2028311_640The contrast between 2014 and 2018 was mentioned by me in an article
(1) In the Lok Sabha it has more than 5 times as many MPs as the Congress. (No competition)
(2) In the Rajya Sabha it leads 73-50 and if you add BJP allies, then it’s even further ahead.
(3) In the list of most populous states, the largest Congress has is Punjab at No. 20. Apart from that they have the smaller Mizoram and Union Territory Puducherry. In contrast there are 16 BJP Chief Ministers and more as allies. Scoring big in the Assemblies leads to scoring big in the Lok Sabha. Losing States means you’ll lose the Centre again.
(4) There are 1500+ BJP MLAs and the Congress has less than half of that.
(5) BJP is by far the richer party.
And finally an interesting point…
(6) In the 2014 elections, 10.7 crore people voted for the Congress. In the last four years, their support has drastically reduced. What about the BJP? Well their primary membership itself stands at 11 crore plus!

This is happening because Congress is losing most of its battles post-2014 in a bid to win the 2019 war. But only by winning many battles from 2014-19 can it win 2019!