Rahul Gandhi seems to be more popular in Pakistan than India, and it is doing Congress no favours

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been receiving support from unexpected quarters recently. Pakistani politicians and journalists are going overboard in their effusive praise for the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Some of them have already heralded him as India’s next Prime Minister.

Whenever one sees Pakistanis praise Rahul Gandhi and take sides with the Congress against Narendra Modi, one is reminded of senior Congress leader, Mani Shankar Aiyer and the manner in which he had remarked during an interview that Narendra Modi needs to be removed from his post if talks between the two countries were to proceed. The exact words he had used were, “First, you need to remove Modi…otherwise the talks will not move forward.” Aiyer, of course, has also hailed Jinnah for his role in the freedom movement and blamed Indian freedom fighters like Veer Savarkar for the partition. Aiyer has in the past blamed India for a lack of dialogue between the two countries and complimented Pakistan for its commitment towards dialogue. Former External Affairs Minister and senior Congress leader had also praised then Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif and slammed Narendra Modi during his visit to the country.

Under such circumstances, it appears that the Pakistanis are merely returning a favour that is owed to the Congress party courtesy of the enormous generosity the grand old party of India has bestowed on them in the past. There is also a certain resemblance in the manner in which Narendra Modi is addressed by Pakistanis and members of the Congress party. Recently, Rahul Gandhi had unabashedly branded Prime Minister Modi a thief. As if on cue, only a couple of days later, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had dubbed Modi a ‘small man’. Also, there was Aiyer who had called Modi ‘neech’ ahead of the Gujarat elections, a remark that may have cost his party a victory.

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The Congress party has been working hard in recent times to shed its anti-Hindu image. Rahul Gandhi himself has been making pilgrimages to various Hindu shrines to impress voters with his religiosity. However, given the history of his party, it will perhaps require a couple of decades at the very least for that to happen.

The close proximity that the Congress party appears to have with the Pakistanis certainly does them no favours. Rahul Gandhi also did himself no favours when he met the Chinese ambassador to India during the Doklam dispute and the Congress then attempted to hide the fact that the meeting took place.

Rahul Gandhi’s popularity among India’s traditional enemies is likely to have an impact on the results when the country moves to vote in the Lok Sabha elections next year. Rahul Gandhi might just succeed in reinventing the Congress as a party of Soft-Hindutva but he will find it much harder to gain the trust of the Indian masses if the narrative of collusion between the Congress party and Pakistani authorities gathers momentum. And right now, Rahul Gandhi appears to be more popular with Pakistanis than Indians.


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