We witnessed unprecedented bitterness in the parliament last week on Wednesday. The personal nature of attacks from both the BJP and the Congress has never reached such levels of decadence. It was the penultimate day of the monsoon session, but instead of finally closing the GST Bill, the Congress put personal matters ahead.
The parliament functioned, but it did not cater to the interests of the public. Parliament’s longest-serving tenants, the Congress party, exploited the platform to settle personal scores.
The Congress corner, even with bare minimum mandate, poured out verbal pyrotechnics, shouted offensive slogans, and emitted hostile body language.
They were fairly isolated, though. Non-NDA parties, from BJD, to AIADMK, TRS, INLD and AAP, criticized Congress for obstructionist politics. It even reminded them of the UPA legacy of Commonwealth, 2G, and Coalgate scams.
Sushma Swaraj battled hard, and with Arun Jaitley by her side, the foreign minister didn’t have to fret. The finance minister, who is also NDA’s chief crisis manager, cut Rahul to size when he pointed out: “There are many honest people whose children have to work for a living. They (Gandhis) have mastered the art of living comfortably without working for a living.”
On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi came literally equipped with a ‘page’ for a weapon, but it backfired! A Telegraph photographer fortuitously captured the Congress vice-president reading secretively from his notes. He had apparently made notes of his talking points.
Rahul Gandhi’s cheat-sheet, and the scribbles on it in English, carried phrases that Rahul uttered word-for-word.
For example: “Log PM Modi ko sunna chahte hain. Woh unki rai janna chahate hain…”
What drew many comments on social media was the fact he used the roman script to pen down his Hindi phrases, and that he even made a note of his reference to the “three monkeys of Gandhi.”
Congress is sinking deeper with each passing day. Reduced to a 44-member party, it is finding life in the opposition too painful to bear. Pushed to the corner and on the brink of extinction, the party and its members have every right to ensure that their pitch in the parliament covers every ground.
Rahul Gandhi simply made sure that he had all the grounds covered. Most politicians carry notes and pointers to the dais. It is widely accepted as normal practice. Not everyone is a gifted orator, and Rahul is certainly not one.
He is also struggling with public perception. He knows he is viewed as unfit for the Prime minister’s role, he is aware of how unpopular he is. Under such pressure, he couldn’t afford to miss any opportunity. He came to the parliament with a game plan and he executed it. Whether it was impressive or not is a different matter.