Editorial: Gear up Gandhi

Srinagar: Rahul Gandi is finally calling some shots after some crucial by-election wins including Gorkhpur in Uttar Pradesh. On Monday the Congress scion took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on data sharing by calling him the “Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians”.

The move it seems is stemming from the fact that the Congress and its leadership headed by Rahul Gandhi is taking its chances with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who remains as invincible as ever.

In the Uttar Pradesh by-poll, which was pegged as a curtain raiser to the 2019 general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a body blow, losing the Lok Sabha seats of Gorakhpur and Phulpur to the Samajwadi Party (SP).

The Akhilesh Yadav-led SP, which was backed by Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the UP by-poll, won Gorakhpur by a margin of 21,961 votes and Phulpur by a margin of 59,613 votes.

While Phulpur was seen as a close contest after the two regional rivals joined forces, BJP was expected to retain Gorakhpur, where the saffron party has been in power since 1991. Not only is it a seat which Adityanath has won five times in the past two decades, it is home to the Goraknath Math, the temple he leads.

UP, however, was not the only state where the BJP suffered electoral losses.

In the Lok Sabha and Assembly by-polls in Bihar, seen as a test run for the alliance between Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United JD(U) and the BJP, the saffron party suffered major setbacks. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) won the Lok Sabha constituency of Araria by 61,988 votes, winning 5,09,334 votes, while BJP received 4,47,346 votes.

In Gujarat the Congress party though emerging as a loser has managed to find its bearings for the first time since its ignominious loss in 2014 which reduced it to its lowest tally in Lok Sabha.

Rahul Gandhi, is emerging as a new president, who seems to have finally come into his own. He has suddenly acquired the gravitas of a leader who can stand his ground in front of the overarching presence of the PM Modi.

Given some miniscule success, the challenge for Gandhi now is now even bigger. He doesn’t  only have to see that Congress fares well in the subsequent polls but also that he matches the PM Modi’s overarching persona and  articulates his own vision of India. Or re-invent, so to say, the existing vision of Congress. But going by the speeches, he has made so far, Gandhi has hardly measured up, even though he has improved his message delivery somewhat. Besides, his secular vision for the country still remains vague and uninspiring.

Gandhi has so far either been reluctant or has failed to straddle the Hindu-Muslim divide. What India needs is a leader who re-invigorates secularism-communalism debate and highlights the pitfalls of Modi’s idea of India. India needs a leader who also redefines and re-invents the concept of secularism, not as a vote-bank identity as is the case now but as a live, everyday creed and ethic that also informs India’s institutions.



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