Has rebranding of Rahul Gandhi paid off?

Has rebranding of Rahul Gandhi paid off?

Has rebranding of Rahul Gandhi paid off?


Rahul Gandhi first invested himself in Parliament, then embarked on a Bharat Jodo Yatra to forge a deeper connect with the people

Will a new sequence in Indian politics begin after 2024 elections? Will the period of alter ego end and will leaders learn to stand by the people instead of running after a few individuals and making that as the national or international issue which really does not help the common man in anyway? Yes, those who have indulged in money laundering or have earned money through wrong means and those who have aided such persons need to be punished.There is no second thought about it. But that alone should not be the agenda for non-BJP parties, particularly the 137-year-old Congress party.

Undoubtedly, there are many questions being raised regarding the growth and investments of Adani. Congress and its misguided leaders should stop talking as if Adani is India. The party still does not introspect why it is not being accepted either by the people or most of the regional parties.

In the past few months, the Congress changed the AICC president but that did not give any indication of the new team taking independent decisions and guiding even people like Rahul Gandhi. All that is happening is the party is trying to rebrand Rahul Gandhi. Fine do it but in a proper way. They don't get tired of speaking about Rahul's pepper grey beard, his padayatra, how he played football on the roads, how he went to Kashmir in T-shirt because he is burning with heat inside. What really matters is how much heat he has been able to generate among people?

The project rebranding is not yet over. Many in the Congress appear quite optimistic that the exercise would help the leader come into his own, thereby, also heralding Congress' revival. But the way the party is moving raises doubts over the success of this exercise. Things will not change unless the Congress party and its leaders including Rahul give up ego and work out strategies to win the confidence of all regional parties, if it wants to fight against the NDA government. Making comments against a community or people like Savarkar will not catapult Rahul into higher orbit of politics. Will such a change come in Congress? Chances appear to be remote.

Rahul Gandhi first invested himself in Parliament, then embarked on a Bharat Jodo Yatra to forge a deeper connect with the people. Many say that the media did not give adequate publicity. But one should understand that if a leader is able to connect with people, then there is no force that can make him win the elections. Crying over media by politicians needs to be stopped. The media gets preference when a party is in opposition because they need them and is treated as untouchables when in power. The trend in the last eight years or so is give full powers to the officers to file cases against the media if they highlight any negative aspect of the government. No one can question them. If anyone dares do it, the journalists are harassed, and the managements are forced to fall in line. This is how the voice of fourth estate is getting muzzled. To be very frank no political party that is in power is bothered about the media. It only wants to control the media.

Coming back to rebranding of Rahul, the public perception does not seem to be matching with the perception of Congress leader about the impact of Rahul's Bharat Jodo yatra. Congress may believe that Rahul's 'Tapasya' has united the people. But, people feel that the Congress party is on verge of extinction.

Still, if the Congress thinks that the re-branded Rahul Gandhi is looking aggressive after he grew his grey beard ever since he started walking every single day and images of his six packs and he outperforming the seniors in the party while doing pushups and sporting a T shirt while passing through the coldest regions of subcontinent, well, let them live in their dreamland.

People feel that the re-branding exercise is a desire to craft larger than life image of RG which is quite different from a leader who stands by the people. Despite the 4,000-km-long yatra, it cannot be said that he has been able to stir the voters to join hands with Congress or get back to its pre-independence or post-independence roots. He did not even make the other opposition even think for a moment that he had or was emerging as a force to be reckoned with.

The more the Congress leaders harp on the disqualification of Rahul and keep repeating only one question and vow to expose the nexus between Adani and Union government, it would lose whatever little gains he had made by walking 4,000 km. It will give an impression that Congress agenda is not people's agenda, but that it only aims at settling political scores.

The Congress leaders' allegations that Modi used harsher words and took jibes at Congress and Rahul does not give them any great advantage. What people ask is how different are you? Agreed, Modi used harsher language, took unsavoury potshots. But if you do the same, how are you different from him or BJP. If the Congress refuses to become dynamic and pro-people, it will be another dream which will not come true.

History shows that all dissenter in countries like Turkey, Israel, Hungary and Poland had fostered unity of the opposition. But here though there are many rivals for BJP, they are not showing any sign of united fight.

Rahul has now started using the word Tapasya. What does he mean by Tapasya? Does he understand what Tapasya is? Remarks against a community or Veer Savarkar cannot be called Tapasya. A Tapasvee never criticises people. They caution the rulers about the consequences of their decisions. Growing a beard does not make one Tapsavee. I would say that the word 'Tapasya' is being insulted.

Tapasya, which is derived from the Sanskrit root word 'tapa' meaning heat or energy, has roughly been translated as austerities or penances. And a Tapasvi, the one who engages in tapasya, has often been called an ascetic. But such translations do not bring out the real sense of these words. Tapasya is neither a form of self-denial nor a form of penance to atone for one's sins. It, in fact, it is the fine art of self-discipline. It refers to certain spiritual practices of self-regulation undertaken for purification of the body and the mind. As lustre of the gold increases in fire; similarly, the practice of tapasya makes one morally strong. Gold has to pass through fire of high intensity, not abuse people or make remarks against freedom fighters.

Bhagavad Gita has described three kinds of tapas – tapas of the body, tapas of the speech, and tapas of the mind. Along with the tapasya of the body, Gita has enumerated the disciplines of speech. Speaking the words which are truthful and which give no offence to others, which are pleasant and which are beneficial; and the practice of self-study – these are said to be the austerities of speech. Krishna has, thus, recommended regular introspection; and speaking the truth, but without any harshness.

Apart from the austerities of the body and the speech, austerities of the mind have also been described in the Gita. Serenity of the mind, gentleness, silence, self-restraint, and the purity of inner-thought – all these are said to be the austerities of mind. In other words, positive disposition of the mind towards oneself and alsotowards others is the tapasya of the mind. The tapasya is to be practised with supreme faith and without expecting anything in return.

Rahul may be thinking he washed the Congress in detergent and had renewed hope that yatra has made himself put his finger on the one calling card that Modi has taken great pride in – incorruptibility. They thought the country, particularly the youth, would follow him blindly. But that did not happen.

Whether his charges against Modi and Adani can be turned into a political knockout or not depends not only on Gandhi's moves in the weeks and months ahead but also on the Congress party's preparedness to turn it into a political-electoral issue. The bugle has been blown in Karnataka where allegations of corruption and counter allegations between BJP and Congress is on. Here, too, people seem to be more concerned about local issues and all parties are competing in unleashing their money and muscle power. Adani issue no one seems to be bothered here. For them, 'Namma Karnataka' matters most.

Insinuations and charges of corruption and cronyism have brought down governments, but it was a different India in 1989 when VP Singh raised the Bofors flag against Rajiv Gandhi and a less cultish India when India's right-wing groups raised the issue against Dr Manmohan Singh's government in 2011-12. In both cases, there was a well-organised support and strategy in taking on those in power. Corruption is no longer an electorally-sensitive issue.

The advantage BJP has in 2024 elections is that it has a mascot in the form of Modi but the Congress has no mascot. Congress which pinned hopes on Rahul has taken a new avatar of "Tapasvee" without sishyas or gurus. This has led to a situation where the entire playing field is left open for BJP.

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