Rahul Gandhi had held an online ‘press conference’ yesterday where he had ended up creating a massive political controversy, albeit unintended. When asked about the Coronavirus pandemic and its spread in Maharashtra, the former Congress president had stated that his party is not the key decision-maker in Maharashtra.
Responding to the question, Rahul Gandhi said that since Maharashtra is most connected and owing to the nature of the state, the spread of the virus in the state was inevitable. However, shielding Congress from sharing any of the governance blame, Rahul Gandhi also said that Congress is not in a decision making role in Maharashtra.
Rahul Gandhi said that there is a difference between running the government and supporting the government in the state. He said that Congress can be considered to be in a decision making role in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, and the UT of Pondicherry but not in Maharashtra.
Rahul’s response can be clearly seen in the live feed of the press conference that was shared by the official handle of the Congress party on 26 May. The Maharashtra part and the controversial comment regarding Congress comes after 33.00 minutes.
10 cabinet ministers, but no accountability?
The subtle messaging of the comment was clear. Rahul Gandhi was distancing himself and his party from the coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra. Though he did say that Maharashtra being a very ‘connected’ state it is facing the worst crisis of the pandemic and hence needs the full support of the central government. He did not explain what ‘support’ was lacking by the central government. Neither did he specify that since he admitted to being in decision making roles in Punjab and Rajasthan, are they taking the full support of the central government or fighting the pandemic on their own.
Since Congress is a part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government and has 10 cabinet ministers in the government, Rahul Gandhi slyly steering the party away from accountability was indeed shocking.
What!!!! 😳 Rahul Gandhi says, ‘Congress isn’t the decision maker in Maharashtra Government’. Why are you at all in a coalition Govt then? Shirking responsibility doesn’t work. You are an equal partner in the Govt! pic.twitter.com/nKJBKp1ORM— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 26, 2020
Congress swings to damage control mode
Soon after Rahul Gandhi’s comments made headlines for reasons not intended by the Congress, the party swung into damage control mode. Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat stated to the media that all was well in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance and they do not have a problem with the Uddhav government.
Not just the party, even mediapersons jumped to issue clarifications and ‘explain’ what ‘he actually meant’.
What @RahulGandhi meant – cong is junior partner so can’t and won’t dictate terms like it can where it is senior partner or sole government stake holder— pallavi ghosh (@_pallavighosh) May 26, 2020
Rahul Gandhi shares video, edits out the controversial parts
Seeing the controversy and the media debates over the fragility of the MVA alliance in Maharashtra, Rahul had shared a short video clip with the text, “Watch this video to see how paid media distorts the truth to serve their masters and distract attention from REAL issues.”
However, Rahul’s video clip was from the part between 33.58 seconds mark from the original live stream, where he says that “Maharashtra is struggling because of the nature of its connectivity.”
The entire part of the Congress just ‘supporting’ the government and not being the key decision-maker was left out in the clip. So basically, Rahul had edited the controversial part out and claimed that there was no controversy. Some journalists even tried to point it out to him.
No Mr Gandhi. Unfortunately, this video of yours seems to be sliced & diced. I heard your press conference & you did say what you are being accused of saying. https://t.co/k80VQVHVng— Sanket संकेत (@sanket) May 26, 2020
It is not clear what exactly is Rahul Gandhi trying to prove by claiming he never said what the media is ‘claiming’ he did. Is he denying his own press conference? Though Rahul Gandhi telling blatant lies is rather usual, Rahul Gandhi denying the statements made in his own press conference is rather amusing.