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View: PM delivers morale booster for the Congress

Throughout his entire speech concluding the debate on the President’s address, Prime Minister Modi attacked the Congress.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 25, 2019, 08.01 PM IST
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PTI
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By choosing to make attacking the Congress the parallel theme of his speech, Modi has paid them the ultimate tribute of certifying them as relevant opponents.
You don’t normally kick a man when he is down. If you still do, there could be two explanations. One, you enjoy the act of inflicting further pain on someone not in a position to defend himself, like an active member of any of those increasing number of mobs that lynch suspects in different parts of the country. Or, two, you consider the fallen opponent to be so dangerous and so capable of rising up from defeat to vanquish you that you seek to finish him off when the chance presents itself.

Throughout his entire speech concluding the debate on the President’s address, Prime Minister Modi attacked the Congress. To the accompaniment of frequent protestations that it is not his habit to criticise others and, in any case, he does not have the time to waste criticising others, the PM kept delivering a series of jabs at the Congress and the Gandhis. The Emergency, the alleged disdain for the achievements of anyone other than the Gandhis, the mother and son being out on bail, the neglect of the Sardar Sarovar project, the cultivation of Muslims as a vote bank at the expense of real concern for their welfare, the usual slings and arrows from the Sangh Parivar’s anti-Gandhi arsenal were hurled at the Congress and its leaders.

Why should the PM do this, when the Congress is clearly down and so badly battered that it does not know who its leader is? Is this an instance of sadism? That would be an unworthy allegation against the PM, who is the quintessential politician who lives, eats and breathes politics. That leaves the explanation that he considers the Congress to be an opponent that could find its feet again and re-emerge a fierce opponent.

This is a compliment the Congress and its members should appreciate at this moment of its confusion after defeat. It would seem Narendra Modi has more faith in the capacity of the Congress to rebuild itself to strength than Congressmen themselves have.

Mao Zedong is famous for saying that it is important to be attacked by your enemy. Mao might have been a little woozy on cultural revolutions and how to make a nation take a great leap forward, but on this score, he was spot on. If your enemy ignores you, except for tactical reasons, you truly cease to matter.

By choosing to make attacking the Congress and the Gandhis the running, parallel theme of his speech on the President’s address, Narendra Modi has paid them the ultimate tribute of certifying them as relevant opponents.

That the Congress is not a spent force, with nearly a fifth of the national vote under its belt, should be obvious to political observers. But Rahul Gandhi’s abdication of leadership has come in the way of Congressmen themselves seeing this with clarity. Hence the squabbles and lethargy.

The PM’s sustained criticism should serve as a shot in the arm for the Congress. It has to get down to the business of putting its house in order and preparing to defend the Idea of India.

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