Rahul Gandhi and freedom of expression – A paradox

Recently, miffed at the portrayal of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Netflix series ‘Sacred Games’ as ‘fattu’ (coward), a Congress leader from Kolkata filed a complaint against the makers of the show. Rahul Gandhi, who had previously lent his support to the JNU students calling for breaking up the country, again came out in support of freedom of expression for Sacred Games. Congress President came out in support of the online series and said it is the BJP and the RSS which believes that the freedom of expression and must be policed and controlled, but he himself believes freedom of expression is a fundamental democratic right.

In his political career spanning over a decade, when he contested from Amethi for the first time in 2004, Congress President has not very surprisingly stood as a mute spectator while freedom of expression was stifled under his watchful eyes in the 10 years of UPA regime.

Scientist and columnist Anand Ranganathan, who had earlier called out Shashi Tharoor and Congress’ hypocritical stand on freedom of expression, again took to Twitter to remind Congress President the number of times he stayed silent when freedom of expression of muffled and murdered after he became politically active.

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At the time of publishing of this report, the count stood at almost 70 instances and counting. We curate some of the select few of these tweets.

  1. In 2012, the UPA government under Congress moved to block ‘anti-Prophet’ cartoons, published by Charlie Hebdo ‘fearing communal tension’.
  2. In June 2017, a Congress leader was sacked for calling Congress President Rahul Gandhi ‘Pappu’. Guess who stayed silent?
  3. In 2006, Rahul Gandhi’s mother and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi personally wrote to the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid sharing ‘sense of outrage’ about ‘publication of sensitive cartoons of the Prophet’ over Danish cartoons, which were soon banned in India.
  4. Spanish writer Javier Moro’s dramatised biography of Rahul Gandhi’s mother Sonia Gandhi The Red Sari was banned and Congress demanded that the publishers withdraw the book.
  5. The film Da Vinci Code was banned in 2006, during the UPA 1 and Rahul Gandhi stayed silent, exercising his own ‘freedom of keeping silence’.
  6. When Congress goons disrupted the screening of the film Indu Sarkar in July last year, Rahul Gandhi maintained radio silence.
  7. Congress demanded a cut from the film Raajneeti, and Rahul Gandhi chose politics of silence.
  8. When a restaurant in Mumbai mocked the UPA government, Congress goons forced a restaurant to shut down.
  9. The CBFC under the UPA clamped down on creativity by harassing the makers of the film ‘Amu’ based on 1984 riots and the film could not be screened. Rahul Gandhi, as usual, stayed silent.
  10. Congress demanded intimate scenes between Jawaharlal Nehru (Rahul Gandhi’s great-grandfather) and Edwina Mountbatten in a film based on their relationship be cut. The film eventually got shelved.
  11. Padmaavat, Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Shanghai, 31st October, etc. are some of the films which ran into trouble in the last few years and Rahul Gandhi stayed silent.
  12. After a study ranked Gujarat as no. 1 state back in 2004, Sonia Gandhi demanded that all studies published henceforth by Rajiv Gandhi Institute must be politically vetted. Economist Bibek Debroy, who was heading it then, decided to quit.

These are just some of the many instances Rahul Gandhi’s party was either instrumental in policing the freedom of expression or was a mute spectator when it was happening.

Hence, Rahul Gandhi should perhaps tweet things which he actually implements and not something that appears politically correct and make a mockery out of himself.

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