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Understanding the ‘Item Number’ Rahul Gandhi did in Parliament: More than ideology, its petty ego, the Gandhi family hubris

On the day when there should have been discussions about the possibility of a United Opposition, about KCR and Mamata's statements, about bringing regional leaders together or finding an alternative to the BJP, Rahul Gandhi just had to go to the parliament, perform some verbal latkas-jhatkas and engage his ecosystem to bring all the attention to himself.

What Rahul Gandhi did in the parliament on February 2 was not his 254th attempt at coming of age, or his big effort to finally guide his party in a well thought out path to defeat the BJP. The 40-minute tirade of big drama, high emotional statements, references to history, geopolitics and all that “intellectual” booster dose that is all over news headlines today will do zilch to increase Congress votes. We all know that.

What Rahul Gandhi did in the parliament last evening was a political version of a Kardashian sister dropping a semi-nude, a forgotten starlet nobody bothers to be updated about suddenly appearing ‘braless’ on her way to the gym, an obscure lyricist announcing that he is feeling threatened in Modi’s India, or a random Bollywood bimbo going to the Maldives and having breakfast inside a swimming pool while displaying her new bikini.

It was a gimmick to grab headlines. The latkas and jhatkas of the Item Number did attract a lot of whistles, as we can see in the media and social media today, but it was not directed at the BJP. The targets were other people.

2nd February was the day when two key regional leaders had made significant announcements. In Telangana, CM KCR had stated that he intends to travel to Mumbai to meet Uddhav Thackeray, and discuss the possibilities of a political alliance.

KCR had made such attempts before. Before the 2019 elections, he had travelled to Odisha, Bengal, UP and had met many regional leaders in 2018. Though they did not admit it upfront, the intentions of the meetings were clear. He was discussing the possibilities of an alliance, a political alternative to the BJP because Congress has failed terribly at providing it. The idea of a third front was discussed but never materialised.

The Congress was visibly unhappy with KCR’s efforts. They promptly declared that KCR will only be helping the BJP. As usual, anyone non-BJP, who does not fold hands and lies down on the feet of the Gandhi family, becomes BJP’s ‘B-team’.

Mamata Banerjee targets 2024 elections, tries to get support from other opposition parties

2nd February was also the day when Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee indirectly stated she will be taking on PM Modi at the national level. She stated that she will contest the 2024 general elections from UP. Mamata is an MLA in Bengal and the sitting CM of the state. Contesting the Lok Sabha elections from another state means only 1 thing. She plans to challenge the BJP at the centre.

Mamata has made similar announcements before. In December, she had declared, “There is no UPA”. She had visited Maharashtra and had met leaders from NCP and Shiv Sena. She minced no words. She asserted that Congress is finished politically and any efforts to pose a strong challenge to the BJP will have to be without the deadweight of Congress and its failed leaders.

As usual, the Congress, or rather, the Gandhi family refuses to budge.

In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there were multiple attempts by Mamata Banerjee to bring a third front. She had organised that big rally at the Brigade Ground in Kolkata, had invited almost all regional leaders to send a message and to substantiate the idea of a united opposition. She had travelled to Delhi too and had met Sonia Gandhi a number of times in the last few years, always making her intentions clear that she wants opposition parties to unite against the BJP.

Every time, though the Gandhis do not dare to say it on her face, they allow the minions in politics and media to insinuate that any efforts at any united opposition without the Congress, and especially without the Gandhis being the default leaders, (and accepted bosses), will only work as the BJP’s ‘B-team’.

In November 2021, when Mamata Banerjee was again on a visit to Delhi, she finally lost her cool when a journalist asked her if she would be meeting Sonia. “Is it a constitutional requirement to meet her every time?”, she had snapped.

On the day when there should have been discussions about the possibility of a United Opposition, about KCR and Mamata’s statements, about bringing regional leaders together or finding an alternative to the BJP, Rahul Gandhi just had to go to the parliament, make some verbal latkas-jhatkas and engage his ecosystem to bring all the attention to himself.

The Gandhi family hubris: They do not want anoyone else to lead an alliance against the BJP

Over the years, the Gandhi family has proven again and again that they are a recipe for disaster. They keep promoting the prince and the princess, and they keep failing miserably. But the party keeps operating as a monarchy. They had promoted a ‘grand alliance’ with the Samajwadi Party before the UP elections in 2017. Posters of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh in ‘Karan-Arjun’ style had propped up all over, but the result was a meagre few MLA seats for Congress and its dead weight dragging the SP down.

Akhilesh was so badly stung from the loss that he refused any alliance with Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In the 2019 general elections, Congress invested big in the promotion of Rahul and Priyanka. Op-eds after op-eds were written, on how Priyanka will save the party and will herald a new era in Indian politics. How she looks like Indira etc. The result: Congress lost deposits in 63 of the 67 seats it had contested in UP. It won only one out of the 67.

Veteran Congress leaders have time and again cautioned against the repeat failures, risking their own prospects in the party by asserting the pressing need for a change in leadership. But the Gandhi family just refuses to budge. It refuses to acknowledge anyone else as a leader to lead even Congress.

The Gandhi family refuses to let anyone else come even remotely close to the prospect of power. Inside the party, and in the wide gnawing abyss where there should be an opposition to the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi’s item number in the parliament was an effort by the ecosystem to take the headlines away from KCR and Mamata, to deny legitimacy to any regional leader trying to step foot in the national politics and thus posing even a remote threat to the ‘throne’ that the Gandhi family imagines itself in.

If Congress is even half as serious as it claims to be to ‘save democracy’ and provide an alternative to the people, they should have acknowledged their losses and had stepped off, they would have voiced support to leaders like Mamata or KCR. But sadly, that doesn’t look like happening any time soon.

Rahul Gandhi’s parliament ‘Item Number’ : Vacuous, verbose, high on drama, low on solutions

Just like an item number in a movie, Rahul Gandhi’s parliament stunt added nothing to the plot, it wasted screen time while providing cheap titillations to people seeking momentary gratification. Contrary to an item number, it will even fail to get any real benefit for his party too. Congress leaders all over the country are still staring at the prospect of losing deposits, struggling to douse infighting within the cadre, and desperately plugging leaks in the battered plumbing of the grand old party that is eventually going to bring the house down.

Democracy needs opposition. The BJP, no matter how successful and how effective, needs a strong opposition force to keep its party cadre working. The country needs an opposition to ask the right questions to the ruling party and provide an alternative to the people. The Gandhi family, in their hubris, is proving to be worse than a sandbank-stuck cargo container in the Suez.

Rahul’s idea: A fragmented India that is neither a nation nor a civilisational entity

What the Congress leadership over the years has been doing covertly, subtly, against the interests of the country, is now announced out in the open. Rahul Gandhi, through his speeches and actions over the years, has made it evident that in his mind, the opposition to India and opposition to Modi are the same thing. No wonder Pakistan finds his statements helpful enough to make its propaganda. No wonder his views are shared by Imran Khan and his government in Pakistan and no wonder that his party was signing MoUs for co-operation with the Chinese Communist Party while they were in power at the centre.

Rahul Gandhi keeps repeating that India is just a ‘Union of States’, for him, the country is just a set of fragments. That may be the reason why Nehru did not mind when China and Pakistan claimed some of those fragments from our frontiers. The Congress Party, in its lust for power, had allowed the partition of the country in 1947, because, for them, India is not ‘Bharat Mata’, the living, breathing embodiment of the motherland, it is just a combination of fragments. That may be the reason why Nehru made that “not a blade of grass grows there” remark when China occupied our territory.

The hubris of the Gandhi family is such that they would not mind multiple partitions of the country, provided they get to rule over some of the fragments. As seen in the 60 years of their rule that brought the emergency, riots, wars and genocide, they would gladly set the country on fire, just to become the kings and queens of the ashes.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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