Modi’s Gujarat:Installing a Rahul Gandhi Government

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By 2017-12-18

By Sugeeswara Senadhira

The State Assembly election results of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi's home State, which today is the bastion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be out today (18 December). If exit polls are to be believed, Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will win Gujarat Assembly Elections, bagging more than 110 of the total 182 seats.

However, this cannot be considered as a great victory for Modi as the BJP's main rival, the Congress Party is likely to improve its position from 4 seats in the dissolved House to 65 seats in the new assembly. This will be all the more beneficial for the Congress to project this as a great achievement of the new Congress, President Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi clan that ruled India for 37 years, great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India (1947 to 1964), grandmother Indira Gandhi (1966-1977 and 1980-1984) and father Rajiv Gandhi (1984-1989), succeeded his mother, Sonia Gandhi, who held the position of Congress Presidency since the death of her husband, Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. In addition to 37 years of direct rule by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Sonia Gandhi ruled India by proxy when she appointed Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister during the Congress rule from 2004 to 2014. Thus, the dynasty rule was extended to a full 47 years out of 70 years of independent India.

The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty managed to survive despite many challenges including two assassinations of leaders during the pre-independence and post-independence periods. The first open challenge to Jawaharlal Nehru came from Subhas Chandra Bose, who became the Congress President in the 1930s, defeating the candidate supported by both Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru.

However, Bose, who raised the Indian National Army to fight the British and allied forces during World War II, mysteriously disappeared after his plane crashed near the Burmese Border.

The second challenge to Nehru came from Deputy Prime Minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, who died in the early 1950s, leaving a clear field for Nehru.

Indira Gandhi

Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister in 1966 and she faced a major challenge from Congress old-guards headed by Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai in 1969. She split the party and challenged senior Congress leaders in the 1969 Presidential Election, in which her nominee, V.V. Giri won, defeating the Congress candidate, Sanjiva Reddy.

Although Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister in 1977 after ousting Indira after the notorious emergency rule and ensured that Sanjiva Reddy became President of India in 1979, the Morarji Government did not last for more than 3 years. Indira came back to power in 1980 and started to groom her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi to succeed her one day. Unfortunately for the dynasty, Sanjay was killed in a plane crash near Chanakyapuri, in New Delhi and she managed to get the reluctant elder son, Rajiv into politics. When she was assassinated by a Sikh bodyguard on 31 October 1984, Rajiv became the Prime Minister. Rajiv's tenure lasted 5 years and when he was about to come back to power in 1991, he was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber during the election campaign.

Although Rajiv's wife, Sonia became the Congress President, she named Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister after the Congress victory.

During the 10 year Manmohan Singh Government, she groomed her daughter, Priyanka, and son Rahul to ensure future perpetuity of dynastic rule.

Narendra Modi

But in the meantime, the charismatic politician from Gujarat, Narendra Modi entered the national arena after serving as a very successful Chief Minister posing a major challenge to the Congress rule.

Immediately after taking over the Congress Presidency, Rahul showed his intention to take Modi head on. In his maiden press conference as President-Elect of the Congress, Rahul said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to divert the Gujarat poll campaign from the "real" issues of development and corruption because the BJP Government failed to meet the expectations of the people. "The people of Gujarat are very intelligent, they can see that PM Modi is not talking about corruption or farmers in his rallies. There is a massive undercurrent, I am actually a little surprised, I had expected the BJP to fight with more strength," Rahul said.

However, Rahul was careful not to personally attack Modi. Rahul said he wouldn't make any derogatory comments about the PM or the BJP. "Modiji is the Prime Minister of India and I will never use any wrong language for him."

At the same time, he referred to Modi's allegation that former Premier, Dr. Manmohan Singh and former Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar discussed about Pakistani involvement in the Gujarat Election. Rahul said, "Modiji's remark on former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh was not acceptable."

At an election rally in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi mentioned about a "secret meeting" held on 6 December at Congress Leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar's residence to allege Pakistan's hand in the Gujarat Elections. The former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Khurshid Kasuri, and the Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood were present at the dinner.

Denial

Both Aiyar and Dr. Manmohan Singh vehemently denied the allegation. Dr. Manmohan Singh said that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fearing 'imminent defeat' in Gujarat is spreading 'falsehoods' and 'canards' and is setting a dangerous precedent by his 'insatiable desire' to 'tarnish' every Constitutional Office. In an uncharacteristic attack on Modi, the former Prime Minister asked him to "show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds" and apologize for his "ill thought transgression" to restore the dignity of the office he occupies.

The victory of Modi's BJP in Gujarat is overshadowed by the vast improvement of Congress strength in Gujarat. The Congress will definitely project it as a victory of new Congress President, Rahul Gandhi in the long campaign to oust Modi and install a Rahul Gandhi Government to commence another chapter of the Nehru-Gandhi dynastic rule.

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