Is Rahul Gandhi going rogue?
His latest videos on China suggest a growing schism between the old and new guards of the Congress.
On Monday, Rahul Gandhi released a new video over Twitter, the fourth one over the past few days questioning the government’s position and statements on the China issue. He said it was clear that the Chinese had occupied Indian territory. Those who are claiming otherwise are neither nationalists nor patriotic. He said he had spoken to army people, seen satellite photos and, as a politician, he simply could not lie to his people and tell them otherwise. Even if it meant the end of his political career.
The Chinese have occupied Indian land.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 27, 2020
Hiding the truth and allowing them to take it is anti-national.
Bringing it to people’s attention is patriotic. pic.twitter.com/H37UZaFk1x
The BJP, naturally, came back at him suggesting his political career was over before it started. Earlier they had criticised him for attacking and demoralising the military and sabotaging national interests. But Gandhi has steadfastly stuck to this stance, even when it put him at odds with his own allies. His supporters say he is the only one in the opposition still daring to ask questions of the government on matters of strategic affairs and territorial integrity.
Despite glaringly contradictory statements given by the government on the events that unfolded since China’s incursion last month, there hasn’t been much of a pointed or prolonged questioning into the issue by the opposition. Political observers say this might be the politically safe thing to do instead of standing up to the BJP in the arena of nationalism. They credit Gandhi for being the only one brave enough to do so.
But there is no denying that there is a section within his own party who are watching his actions from afar and even trying to distance themselves from him. They feel his views on foreign policy lack depth and are needlessly pitting the Congress party against the Prime Minister in the sensitive matter of national security.
It has been suggested that Rahul Gandhi and his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi are being counselled by different teams within the party which are often in contradiction with each other. The recent revolt by Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot are also being laid at the door of these internal differences. His critics say the younger Gandhi, despite relinquishing his presidency of the party after last year’s electoral defeat, is exercising power without responsibility. He is swimming against the tide of popular opinion both within his party and their allies and the might of the BJP-RSS machinery, a risky gamble. It is too early to say if it will pay off or what this means for the party and the balance of power between the old guard and new.