@OfficeOfRG in attack mode

BY JYOTI MALHOTRA| IN Opinion | 27/12/2016
Congress’ Rahul Gandhi focuses attack on PM’s corruption and #demonetization, but is the rest of the Opposition buying?
Not yet, says JYOTI MALHOTRA

 

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Jyoti Malhotra

 

Midway into Narendra Modi’s five-year tenure, the Opposition has expectedly picked #demonetisation as a weapon with which to harangue the BJP government. But six weeks into the move, the fact that the Opposition is split on targeting Modi reflects two things : First, the ground hasn’t shifted yet beneath the PM’s feet and second, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is not the alternative pole around which the Opposition would like to coalesce.

Certainly @OfficeOfRG’s anger around #demonetisation is substantial. The pinned tweet on his account is a taunt, asking the PM to come clean with the cash payments allegedly made to him by the Sahara and Aditya Birla groups, in papers seized by the Income-Tax department.

 

Beneath the tweet is a copy of the so-called Sahara-Birla papers which show that from October 2013-February 2014, Sahara allegedly made payments of Rs 40 crore into “Modiji’s” account.

 

@INCIndia, the Congress party account, follows up :

INC India ‏@INCIndia  Dec 22

The question is did the Prime Minister take bribes from the Sahara & the Birla groups?

Clearly, the Congress Vice-President has now decided that his two-pronged attack on the BJP will henceforth focus on the PM’s alleged corruption as well as the disastrous impact of demonetization. All his rallies in recent days, in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan have worked around these two themes.

But the BJP’s hoots of laughter seem to have rankled somewhere. On December 23, Gandhi’s account retweeted a Congress party tweet which said in Hindi :

“Modi ji, aapko mera jitna mazaak uraana hai, uraa lo, lekin in kagazon ki jaanch karvao”

(Modi ji, you can make as much fun of me as you want, but inquire into the Sahara-Birla papers)

Expectedly, the Congress party, too, has rallied behind Rahul to attack the prime minister :

 

 

So as 2016 gives way to another year, some things haven’t changed. Both Rahul and the Congress are still harking back to the poor vs rich theme that the Congress leader, with his “suit-boot ki sarkar” jibe, first brought up in the spring of 2015 :

 

INC India ‏@INCIndia  Dec 24

BJP gave laddu to the common man standing in lines outside banks. Common man got Rs 3 laddus. Vijay Mallya got Rs 1200 cr laddus

Interestingly, @BJP4India rose to the Congress leader’s taunt, responding with a list of favours the Congress-led UPA gave to industrialists during the ten years it was in power.

 

 

Note that Gautam Adani, the industrialist said to be close to prime minister Modi, heads the BJP’s list.

But even as the rest of Delhi wondered if Rahul Gandhi’s release of the so-called Sahara-Birla papers was the extent of the “earthquake” promised by him – and was the Congress party so naïve it didn’t know that several political leaders in Delhi as well as newspaper editors already had the same papers for some time now – or was there something more?

In fact, none other than Subramaniam Swamy, said to be the cat’s paw for several people in the RSS and the BJP, put out a tweet on the same day using a derogatory term for the Congress vice-president.

Subramanian SwamyVerified account‏@Swamy39

Jaitely should order an enquiry as to how Buddhu got these IT raid docs kept in the Ministry's secret vaults? We must know who gave Buddhu?

  • 4:54 PM - 21 Dec 2016

Could it be that Rahul Gandhi has accidentally stumbled onto something that is bigger than anything anyone, including him, realizes today?

Signs are that #demonetisation will have a much greater impact on the economy and this could affect the BJP’s chances in the states going to the polls in February-March – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

A recent @aajtak- @IndiaToday survey by 71 correspondents in 71 districts of Uttar Pradesh (across 80 Lok Sabha seats and 403 Assenbly constituencies) has given the BJP only a very slight edge, in 32 districts, against the Samajwadi Party’s lead in 30 districts.

Mayawati’s BSP is leading in only 7 districts, while the Congress is leading in only one district, according to this survey. With Income-Tax raids against Mayawati’s kin at the time of writing – more than Rs 100 crore, allegedly, has been found in her brother’s account after #demonetisation -- it seems that @MayawatiUP is in for trouble.

Reports from Uttar Pradesh are that Samajwadi Party has offered 88 seats to the Congress party to fight the elections together, but the Congress wants more (it has 28 seats in the current Assembly).

Chief minister @yadavakhilesh is banking on his reputation for progress and governance across caste and creed, despite the ongoing struggle with his uncle @shivpalsinghyad on the distribution of tickets, and believes that he has a real chance to create history in UP and win again – especially if the BJP begins to struggle more and more against #notebandi.

Back in Delhi, though, many Opposition parties remain uneasy about accepting Rahul Gandhi as the unofficial leader of the Opposition -- although they didn’t have any hesitation acknowledging his mother.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury remains much more circumspect than the rest of his party which believes that the Congress is as bad as the BJP and that both must be opposed, equally.

But his tweets indicate that the Congress hasn’t fully understood the depth of the disaster ;

 

 

And again :

 

 

Will things get worse before they get better? The year ahead seems full of uncertain portents for Indian politics as well as the people.

 

 

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