By Aditya Mishra, BA/BSc Social Science, Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year
As of this news article’s writing and submission time, several developments might still be taking place concerning this fiasco, as it hasn’t ended yet and is seeing major developments. As a result, several facets might not have been included.
Just A Meme? Or a Shady Reality?
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a source of influence to every Indian citizen – regardless of how that influence has varied interpretations for various groups across the country. In one of his many electoral campaign speeches, he went hard at the opposition parties during his fashioned rant he used the phrase, ‘Hypocrisy ki bhi seema hoti hai’ (translation: there’s a limit to hypocrisy) – similar phrases have turned into a meme in India. However, this particular phrase might just sum up Narendra Modi’s tenure as the Indian Prime Minister so far. Before we go into the specifics of this matter, there are a few things we need to know about India. In 2021 India was declared an elected autocracy by the Sweden-based V-Dem Institute. It has been downgraded to the category of ‘Partly Free’ in the annual report of Freedom House. Journalists and any opposition in India are charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax, and National Investigation Agency.
Shady Allegiances and a Past of Rahul Gandhi
Opposition parties have been subjected to political oppression by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Many leaders have been charged with corruption, scams, and many criminal cases. While some of these opposition party leaders have been sent to prison, those who switched allegiance from their parties to the BJP have had all charges dropped and cases buried. Hemant Biswas Sharma (the current Chief Minister of Assam), Mukul Roy (Member of Legislative Assembly in West Bengal), Khushbu Sundar (BJP Leader from Tamil Nadu) and many more other politicians that have joined BJP have had all criminal charges against them dropped. One of the harshest punishment sufferers of the BJP’s quelling of the opposition has been Rahul Gandhi (Congress Member of Parliament from Wayanad). Rahul Gandhi carries the long line of the Gandhi family legacy that started long back with Moti Lal Nehru. In 2013, Rahul Gandhi publically tore a copy of the amendment rule that his party was wanting to pass. This displeased many people, to say the least, and it soured public opinion on him, marking him as the villain with a strong family background. The post-2014 Rahul Gandhi had a complete turnaround. He was labelled as ‘Pappu’ by the BJP as someone who doesn’t have political awareness – it was the case as he had not much of the idea of Indian politics that had changed drastically. He was ridiculed for not taking a firm stance on party guidelines. He was further made fun of after resigning as the Congress Party Chief in 2019. That’s when things changed for him and the expectations of his legacy.
Tough Questioning, Nationalism or Escapism? and Bharat Jodo Andolan
After attacking the Prime Minister over his failed policies like demonetization, Goods and Service Tax, and intrusion of China into Indian territory, a BJP spokesperson led a counter-argument that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t connect with the people of India and only speaks within the walls of the Parliament. Rahul Gandhi was still challenging the government with some direct questions that the government and the spokesperson were having difficulty dodging. Every question was becoming more challenging than the previous, so the government found an escape route from this constant questioning. The Babri Masjid/Ram Mandir debate has always been a post-independence debate that has been raging in the country and all of the previous governments have done their best not to get involved in this issue. It was demolished in 1992 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. In 2019, the Supreme Court of India declared that the land belongs to the Hindu faction and a temple will be constructed. This was a perfect escape route for the BJP as following this decision, the government has started countering every opposition member and questions on grounds of religion. This escape plan was perfect for every opposition party but the Congress who could see through the tricks and still questioned the Modi Government over its dubious policies. So the government employed a different tactic: let the media loose. The mainstream media who were on government payrolls maximised and exaggerated the propaganda of the Modi Government, and the government quelled any media forms that were revealing the truth behind the fake news that was being circulated. Congress wasn’t falling for this trick either so they launched an offensive this time initiating a Bharat Jodo Yatra, going all the way from Kanyakumari to Jammu and Kashmir with different Congress leaders meeting with the people of the country and the independent media who were providing coverage for the citizens to see that the Congress of 2014 and 2019 was no more and that the new Congress was trying to be more people-oriented.
Modi for Modi, Modani?
The 2009 Lalit Modi scam, and the 2018 Lalit Modi and Mehul Choksi scams were all ignored by the BJP for some mysterious reason. Following this, Rahul Gandhi issued a statement on 13th April 2019 saying, ‘Taking out thirty thousand crores from your pocket and putting it in his pocket. Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi, well a short question. How are the names of all the thieves Modi, Modi, Modi? Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi. And if you find a little, then there will be many more Modi’s will come out.’ This was declared as an outrage against India itself because as per the BJP, attacking the Prime Minister is apparently attacking the country itself. BJP MLA from Gujarat Purnesh Modi filed a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi in a Surat Court under Indian Penal Code 499 (Any words spoken, read, or gestured with the intention of harming a person’s reputation), 500 (Punishment for Defamation, including simple imprisonment up to 2 years with fine), and 504 (Intentional insult with the intent to provoke breach of peace). He was convicted by the court and was granted a bail suspension with the option to appeal to higher courts. This nightmare would come back to haunt Narendra Modi in 2023 in the form of the Hindenburg Research report on Gautam Adani’s shares. On January 24th, 2023, Hindenburg Research issued a report that outlined several suspected frauds at the Adani Group headed by none other than Gautam Adani himself. Adani Group’s response was not convincing, here’s what the Hindenburg Research had to say about Adani’s response ‘Adani failed to specifically answer 62 of our 88 questions, of those it did answer, the group largely confirmed or attempted to sidestep our answers.’ Despite being on the back foot Adani Group still went on to accuse Hindenburg Research of committing ‘flagrant of applicable securities and foreign exchange laws’ a baseless argument that followed another useless argument claiming that they are ‘Mandoffs of Manhattan.’ The Indian mainstream at first denied the report by completely not talking about it, later they declared it as an act of foreign terrorism plot against India. Soon this Adani Saga became so global that there had to be a discussion in the Parliament. Rahul Gandhi asked question after question on Gautam Adani’s link to Narendra Modi as Adani was getting development projects wherever Modi launched development schemes. However, his questions were expunged from the records, and the speaker refused to record them. All these questions were too hard to ignore even for the people this time around because independent media who had been covering this Saga for a very long time were bringing all the facts to the table for the people to see including those that even Rahul Gandhi hadn’t asked. The BJP in turn went full megalomaniac, they refused to entertain questions on Adani, declared Hindenburg Research to be run by the enemies of Narendra Modi and India, and jumped to Gautam Adani’s defence. This was turning out to be a nightmare for Modi, who somehow got his opportunity to escape again and this time it was Rahul Gandhi who helped Modi most surprisingly.
Rahul Gandhi was in London recently, where he talked about India and how the world has suddenly lost sight of what’s going on in India. While independent news platforms have tried their best to share the world of India with the Indians, it has been quite difficult for the international media to do so. The once credible BBC India is now being targeted by the BJP as a propaganda machine for the Congress. In June 2022, former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma made derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed during a TV debate on Times Now, causing some serious damage to India’s relations with gulf nations. At the same time Fact-Checker, Mohammed Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police while Nupur Sharma’s suspension from BJP was given sympathy, Mohammed Zubair was called a separatist, while both Zubair and Nupur received death threats there is a difference to both these threatened individuals, Nupur is getting threatened but has received full police protection and a court order that denies her getting arrested. Meanwhile, Zubair hasn’t received any police protection and is held for a fact-check tweet that he had tweeted back in 2018. While both of them suffered from some perspective, the main culprit was the TV channel where the debate was aired, Vineet Jain’s owned channel Times Now quietly stepped in the shadows to conceal their involvement in the debate while it happened in the daylight. In 2020, the BJP bulldozed 3 farm bills without any formal democratic procedures causing an uprising of farmers in the country, While it did receive some international coverage (thanks to BBC) a certain Rihanna and a certain Greta Thunberg lent their support to the farmers’ cause. It did 3 things. First, it revealed the true nature of BJP’s hate for international media as they alongside the farmers’ sympathisers were called ‘foreign propagandists.’ Second, the BJP called upon some of its special members of the IT Cell who mysteriously had the same tweets with the same words, and the only ones who didn’t have the same wording were news anchors who were attacking the celebrities as part of a group controlled by an international terrorist organisation. Third, these news anchors have used some words that will be poisonous even when translated into English or any other language. Mainstream media houses are told what to present on TV by the government, there is an interview on YouTube, News Nation reporter Anil Yadav has given an interview with the independent news media company Newslaundry, where he says that reporters in his company are required to do three things:
- Glorify Modi and BJP’s policies.
- If you feel you want to serve the purpose of a journalist then you must only question opposition members.
- Demonise Muslims, and get them to say something controversial
This is the model that works in favour of the BJP’s long-awaited dream of making India a Hindu nation.
RaGa in London, No Apology-No Membership
March 7th, 2023. Rahul Gandhi was in the United Kingdom where he shared some of his opinions on some important issues. Lambasting policies like Demonetization and Goods and service tax, talking about the impact of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on the Indian political system, the media, and the government agencies, attacking Narendra Modi for insulting the Indian populace, questioning the BJP over its bulldozer-styled intimidation, and finally answering the destined question on the 2024 General Elections. Unfortunately, for Rahul Gandhi, these were all the things the BJP was escaping from when Rahul questioned the PM during Parliamentary sessions all this while. The damage to Narendra Modi was done, because when you can release your rage by not raging then it’s game over. So Narendra Modi tried his first trick, and all the BJP members asked Rahul Gandhi to apologise in Parliament, BJP leaders have tried to build pressure on him, forcing him to apologise. But Rahul didn’t budge, this was almost game over for the BJP as the Congress and other opposition leaders were sharpening their attacks on them. Then BJP played its trump card. The court stay order that was placed on the case against Rahul Gandhi (placed by Purnesh Modi in 2019) was reopened, and an instant decision was made sentencing Rahul Gandhi to 2 years in prison and cancelling his election result from Wayanad. Furthermore, he can’t contest elections for 8 years. Following this, there has been a tussle between Congress and BJP leaders. BJP leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad, Anurag Thakur, Yogi Adityanath and Jay Prakash Nadda among others have stated that Rahul Gandhi has abused the Modi’s caste which in turn belong to the Other Backward Class, criticising the Prime Minister is ok but, abusing him is not. Meanwhile, Congress leaders like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Mallikarjun Kharge, Pawan Khera and many Congress leaders have opposed BJP’s claim, presenting their own claim that due to constant questioning of the Prime Minister’s relations with Adani, the BJP has tried to silence the Congress.
A Brief Flashback of Hypocrisy
The BJP might be stating the reason that the OBC’s have been discriminated and violated and attacked; history shows that these leaders themselves haven’t done much good. In fact they have far more derogatory remarks but they don’t have themselves disqualified as Member of Parliament,
Yogi Adityanath 2017
Here’s where the limits to BJP’s hypocrisy get challenged. In 2017 Yogi Adityanath was elected to be the successor to Akhilesh Yadav as the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, after assuming power the first thing he did was cleanse the Chief Minister’s residence with holy water because Akhilesh Yadav belonged to a lower caste and Yogi belonged to the top caste and religiously it is considered impure to enter a house where a lower caste person has been before you.
Narendra Modi 2015
Nitish Kumar isn’t loyal to one alliance when it comes to his political career, but even he realises how derogatory a simple remark can be, while at a rally in Muzaffarpur in 2015, Modi didn’t hesitate to attack Nitish Kumar and go a step too far, he said ‘there is something wrong with Nitish Kumar’s DNA.’ It’s not the best thing to say when you are doing an election rally as the Prime Minister. Nitish Kumar didn’t take the matter to court but instead wrote a letter to the PM asking him to take his statement back, the BJP didn’t take the sentence, instead gave the reply, ‘Nitish Kumar is not Bihar.’
Narendra Modi (multiple rallies)
Being attacked often builds sympathy, you don’t hurt people with the feeling that you know how it feels to be hurt, so why give someone the same feeling you’ve gone through. All this deep thought goes out of the window when it comes to Narendra Modi giving speeches at election rallies. He has bad-mouthed the Gandhi family so much that we have to search through the internet to dig them out. He has even gone on to erase Jawaharlal Nehru from the history of India and the study curriculum in school textbooks.
Anurag Thakur 2020
The less we talk about this guy the better, he nearly ran down BCCI to the ground over his dispute with the Supreme Court only to be reincarnated as the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting. While campaigning for the Delhi Elections amidst the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, he raised a slogan that I feel obliged not to share, let’s just say it refers killing the ‘enemies’ of the countries, here the enemies mentioned are the CAA protesters who were beaten by the Delhi Police (the Delhi Police acts under the orders of Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister).
Of course Rahul Gandhi reacted as soon as his disqualification was announced. He has raged against Modi and the BJP, he says that he will continue to question Narendra Modi over his ties with Gautam Adani, and has mentioned that the BJP is trying to avoid the matter by making it matter of OBCs or him going abroad. He also mentioned his time during the Bharat Jodo Yatra where his speeches talked about equality between all communities. As of 26th March 2023, the Congress called for a Satyagraha where they protested at Rajpath. The Court had issued an order stating that the Congress cannot protest at Rajpath, Congress has ignored that order. Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has asked the Bhartiya Janata some tough questions, challenging them over the legitimacy of the disqualification of her brother. The Congress Party has also received support from other political parties. Aam Aadmi Party president Arvind Kejriwal, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejaswi Yadav, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, Udhhav Thackerray’s faction of Shiv Sena all have lent their support to Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party is calling out Rahul Gandhi for ignoring court orders, and have called the Congress’ Satyagraha an insult to Mahatma Gandhi.