Replying to the debate in Parliament on Motion of Thanks to the President during the Budget session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a blistering attack on Congress inside both Houses of Parliament, alleging that the grand old party was in the grip of ‘Urban Naxals’ and that it was the leader of ‘Tukde-Tukde Gang’, both former and latter terms being just a figment of the imagination and generally used by the BJP IT cell to troll Congress on social media.
What was supposed to be an explanatory speech for the whole nation to know what the government did in the past one year and what its plans ahead were; rather than padding up statistics on employment, infrastructure, COVID management and other aspects of the economy, the PM failed miserably to satisfy the citizenry. With the election season at its peak, Modi very well knew all eyes would be on him; whatever he says would be under the spotlight. He used this opportunity deftly like a shrewd politician propelling his propaganda war multiple notches up.
But while doing so, Modi exhibited an innate fear of how he shuddered at the very idea of a Congress revival, his conscience quivering at the thought, ‘what if Congress returns to power, what will happen to brand Modi?’ Though he put up a great show of confidence, there was an undercurrent that could be felt as to how scared he was of Congress. Modi fell into the trap laid surprisingly quite well by Rahul Gandhi, the first speaker in Lok Sabha to initiate the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President's speech. Undoubtedly, Rahul, with his questions of two Indias, economic disparity, lack of respect and recognition of states, a dumb and nihilistic approach of the government to Chinese intrusion, rattled everyone, including PM Modi.
Modi chose to pull out facts from the past that discomforted Congress, be it the Emergency, anti-Sikh riots, how state governments were dissolved in the past, blaming Jawahar Lal Nehru for everything that went wrong, and so on. He blamed Congress for corruption, casteism and regionalism. He went on to say that democracy was not the patronage of the grand old party.
There were many more examples that illustrated clearly that Modi had no data to refute the Opposition's claims. Modi had no rebuttals to the pointers raised by Rahul Gandhi, and hence he hid behind history, painting Nehru black and raking up old wounds. Without incontrovertible facts, Modi exposed himself like never before and his persona came across as a bundle of apprehension; he appeared a coward who did not want to deal with the issues with a strong approach. A man purported to have a ‘56-inch chest’ is supposed to roar like a lion, not be on the defensive.
The two speeches by Modi, seen in contrast with Rahul's speech, have brought out the two personas like never before. Rahul is coming of age, shedding the ‘Pappu’ tag. At the same time, Modi fades into his cave of old rhetoric and predictable style and has nothing new to offer except empty slogans on nationalism.
The writer is a Delhi-based freelance journalist. The views are personal.