With General Elections around the corner, there appears to be a renewed attempt to relaunch Rahul Gandhi in Indian politics. The propaganda wing of the media has thrown their weight behind the Congress President just as they had prior to 2014.
Swati Chaturvedi, an abusive troll who masquerades as a journalist who is known to spread fake news, in an article for Gulf News claimed that Rahul Gandhi had finally shed his ‘Pappu’ image. As evidence, she used a piece of fake news spread by Business Standard who later pulled down their report after OpIndia busted their lies. She claimed that ‘Google trends’ had reported it when in fact it was BS India that did it. It appears she added her own bit of fake news on top of another fake news to project Rahul Gandhi in good light.
Propagandists appear to have adopted their favourite leader’s tactics in their attempt to take down Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi, through his antics on the Rafale Deal, has regularly displayed that he has scant regard for truth. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Congress President has continued calling it a scam, often repeating his lies. The propagandists in the garb of journalists appear to be displaying a similar tendency as Swati Chaturvedi just did.
Chaturvedi used another piece of data as evidence of her claim. She cited research that showed the median retweet count for Rahul Gandhi was higher than Prime Minister Modi during January to April 2018. Readers would remember that it was around the same time when Cambridge Analytica was exposed for breaching the privacy tens of millions of users. Their association with Congress is also well known. In hindsight, it appears that the data mining firm’s methods were indeed very effective.
The rest of Chaturvedi’s article is merely an ode to the scion of the Gandhi dynasty. The author has whitewashed Gandhi’s lies on Rafale as ‘consistent focus’. Her primary contention is that the Congress President has finally shed his image of ‘Pappu’.
However, it appears such opinions are not shared by people at large. Recently, at an event in Bhubaneshwar, the young students who were in attendance replied to the question of whether Rahul Gandhi will make a good Prime Minister with resounding chants of ‘Pappu’. It appears despite his best efforts with support from propagandists, people are not buying what he is selling.
The Internet has a long memory and in the age of social media, it will be extremely different for Rahul Gandhi to emerge as a credible Prime Ministerial candidate. Of course, he may still find himself on that seat should the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ manage to stop the Modi-Shah juggernaut. However, that is unlikely to be because of his own personal credibility.
Rahul Gandhi is adopting the tactics that Hillary Clinton embraced during her Presidential campaign. She had massive support among propagandists in the mainstream media, she had the support of entire Hollywood and from large sections of the political establishment. And despite all that support, she suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Donald Trump.
The Congress President has taken a similar approach. He has propagandists like Chaturvedi who attempt to relaunch him as a credible candidate. There are Bollywood stars like Naseeruddin Shah and others who paint an apocalyptic portrait of India under Modi. But Gandhi’s reputation, like that of Clinton, is so damaging it may be impossible for anyone to recast him in a better light.
There is the additional problem that even the Congress’ supposed allies do not take Rahul seriously. The SP and BSP have left only two seats for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, other regional leaders have refused to endorse him for the seat of Prime minister as well. Therefore, Rahul may have shed his ‘Pappu’ image in the eyes of propagandists but the Indian people still see him that way and so does most of the political establishment.
There’s the added fact that it’s only a matter of time before Rahul Gandhi does something extremely juvenile or stupid. Apart from his obsession with potatoes, there’s his recurring tendency to wink at inopportune moments. All this has happened in relatively recent times. Thus, Rahul Gandhi is yet to emerge as a serious political player.
Of course, the Congress’ recent victory in Assembly elections has given a boost to such assertions by propagandists. However, it is well known that the victories were more down to excellent campaigns by state players like Sachin Pilot and Kamal Nath and the massive anti-incumbency against the BJP. Hence, although we will surely witness a torrent of articles in the next few weeks attempting to re-brand the Congress President, it will merely be wishful thinking on the part of Congress friendly journalists.