The coming elections in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa are almost sure to be a major setback for Prime Minister Modi and his party. If the current inclinations are any indication, the party is going to suffer heavily in these elections. In UP, SP-Congress alliance is well set on the path of victory. In Punjab, it seems to be a contest between Congress, AAP and BJP and the chances of BJP forming a Government look bleak. In Uttarakhand though, Congress has to fight hard to return to power. If the predictions prove right, Rahul Gandhi is set to emerge as the pivot of the Opposition unity. He has already made a considerable headway in that direction. Defeats in Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand will take the steam out of the popularity of Modi and he will face an uphill task in retaining his unchallenged position in the party. His recent much publicised Surgical Strikes on the borders and Black Money have proved a disaster. Both have failed to bring the desired results for the country as well as for the Prime Minister. Chinks are already appearing in the Hindutva lobby with Shiv Sena and VHP showing clear signs of dissent. If after Bihar, UP is also lost, BJP will find it hard to ontain the damage.
Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, is definitely in much better position. When I released my approach paper, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination and Roadmap” about 4 years back and sent its synopsis to various political leaders, I got a call from Rahul Gandhi’s office and my appointment was fixed with him two days later. Before meeting him, my image of him was no better than what was being projected in the media – an immature and reluctant son of the most powerful political family of the country. But once I met him, there was a complete metamorphosis of my view of him. I started presenting him the major points I highlighted in my document, first on the common national issues and then the issues related to Muslim community. He kept asking questions and clarifications in between. After about 35 minutes, he suddenly stopped me and said, “First tell me about your background. I am asking this because whenever someone comes here, normally I find him very meek having hardly any words to speak. But your confidence has made me think about long term association.” I told him a little about myself telling him that my confidence was born out of my not being associated with any political group and while I would love to keep sending my frank opinion on various issues to him, I have no intention to join politics. I loved his frankness, his sobriety and his keenness to understand and analyse things. I hate political leaders who try to over impose their predetermined positions. When I was about to part after about a 45-minute discussion, he asked me, “Tell me one thing which you will like to be focussed on”. I said: “I would love if you pursue a people-friendly rather than corporate-friendly approach and I would like to assert that Indian Muslims are part of the people.”
The BJP and its corporate friends in the media had embarked upon a strategy to target Rahul Gandhi instead of Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of UPA Government, and Sonia Gandhi, President of Congress. They knew that the future of the party lay in Rahul. It was he rather than the two who was blamed for the loss of Congress despite the fact that the poll is always considered a verdict on the ruling government, its Prime Minister and the President of the ruling party. This was a well-calculated move and Congress itself fell to their plan. The senior leaders were reluctant about Rahul. When he tore the copy of the Ordinance, instead of projecting him as a young leader who did not even care of his own party bosses when it came to the question of honesty and justice, he was presented as an immature leader. And since the media has continued to keep the momentum despite the fact that it is none other than him who has been taking Modi head-on on every important issue and has consciously taken a lead in the issues related to the poor and farmers.
But his people-friendly rather than corporate-friendly approach is what irks the media and the corporate. What I find in him the most important sign of true maturity is the sign of “Immaturity” for the corporate. He will become “mature” for them as soon as he starts saying things that favour them or when he appears to be coming close to power. For me, a true leader has to be sincere, suave and polished rather than one indulging in melodramatics. And if he is sincerely concerned for the masses irrespective of their identities, he is a real asset for the country. I find these qualities in plenty in him.
What Rahul Gandhi needs to work on is to translate his people-friendly approach into a socio-political movement. He is already focusing on Economic Disparity and he needs to turn this into an issue that would ultimately unite the nation for a truly genuine cause. If inequalities galore, democracy is of no meaning. A true democracy should bring real changes in the lives of the people and not merely in the lives of one percent. He played an important role in many important achievements of UPA like Food Security Bill, RTI and Land Ordnance Act. He has continued to focus on the issues of farmers and common people. He needs to convert these issues into political assets. The divisive politics of BJP and the theatrics of Modi are sure to give him a chance to cement the people of the country, Regional and other secular parties will not hesitate to support him if the coming elections bring the expected results.
Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”, “Qur’anic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health), “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. Read more about him at http://www.worldmuslimpedia.com/dr-javed-jamil. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/drjavedjamil; also https://javedjamil.com/. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.