First Avatar of Rahul as LoP
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

First Avatar of Rahul as LoP

July 2, 2024

As Rahul takes up his first Constitutional post, I am sure that he will be feeling the weight of the realisation that he will be judged no more for whose son he is, but for whether he can be the Opposition Leader India deserves. —Philip Mathew, Editor, The Week

Attention Hindus of India. Rahul Gandhi, the new Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Parliament, has spoken.

I was listening to his yesterday afternoon speech participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President Droupadi Murmu’s address to the joint session of the Parliament.

Yesterday, Monday, 1st July 2024, would go down in the Parliamentary history of free India as the day that belonged to Rahul Gandhi because in the course of his fiery speech he used the words “Hindus Hinsak Hai…’ Hindus are violent. The stone was thrown at the hornet’s nest provoking Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A grunt was heard and instantly Modi was the first on his feet and told the Speaker what was said by Rahul was a serious issue. Modi interjected at Rahul’s remark that those “who call themselves Hindus are engaged in violence and hate.” Apparently, unparliamentary or unacceptable allegation against the Hindus. Soon what Rahul said got many interpretations like the proverbial message of a King: “Hang him not leave him.” Does the King order the hanging of the accused or to leave him free? It depends where you put the comma — after the word ‘not’ or after the first word ‘him.’

I thought now the hell will break loose. But no. When peace returned, after a minor sound and flurry, Rahul Gandhi looked as confident as when he began to speak. Like Julius Caesar he seemed to have dismissed the protest as of no consequence — “What I have said, I have said.” Gulp it.

Rahul Gandhi was in his elements when he spoke as I expected. But his dress was not as I expected. He was attired in his trade-mark white T-shirt, its short-sleeves hugging his arms rather tightly as if suggesting that he was there to take on the Treasury Bench in a duel.

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I had watched on TV the election of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha Om Birla in a contest. Later, as per protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi and the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Kiren Rijiju led the elected Speaker to his chair and greeted him. Rahul Gandhi then was attired in white jubba and pyjama. I thought, probably this would be his sartorial outfit for all the Parliament sessions in future in deference to the august body. But no. After all, there is no dress code for Parliamentarians.

Be that as it may, I must mention now, in great admiration, the way the Legislators in Tamil Nadu Assembly dress when they attended the session. A flock of white swans! Each member immaculately dressed in spotless white upper garment and white dhoti or pants and seated orderly in great dignity and decorum. Exception to this Assembly ‘maryada,’ decorum, is only on rare occasions.

Wish our Parliament members too followed a self-imposed dress code. It could be either representative of their State, region or culture. At least they could wear Bandhgala coat or jubba with Nehru or Modi jacket considered national dress. Certainly this would symbolically proclaim the idea of true India, united in its diversity.

During the days of Nehru, he himself paid attention to the kind of dress he wore. The red rose-bud stuck in the button hole of his coat became his hallmark and famous as ‘Nehru rose’ those days. Later, one President of India imitated Nehru on occasions. Politicians and the Government employees used to dress properly while attending public meetings and going to their offices, schools or colleges.

When I see on TV the well-dressed law-makers of other countries, including Pakistan, I wonder why it is not possible for our law-makers here in our country. I think, attending Parliament being a formal occasion, a formal dress befitting our social ethos is in order. A casual dress, psychologically, has a tendency to influence the speech and conduct of a person and bring it to a casual, irresponsible level. Did you get me Steve?

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With these passing observations on our Parliamentarians’ dress, let me revert to the peroration part of Rahul Gandhi’s theatrical speech, holding up the photos and images of Lord Shiva, Guru Nanakji, symbols of other religions and a copy of our Constitution, in his own incoherent, jarring manner targeting Hindus, BJP, RSS and, of course, Modi.

On Thursday, 13th June 2024 I had written in this column about the result of this election-2024 under the title “Third Avatar of Modi.” There I had said Modi was a Prime Minister who made a weak India strong and a humble India proud after 76 years of independence. Yes, that is Modi’s legacy just as that of Nehru whose legacy was in shaping the destiny of our country as a democracy.

I had also written and let me quote, “…However, in the following years we will see wonderful fire-works in the Lok Sabha between Modi and Rahul Gandhi with the latter providing some comic relief.”

Well, yesterday’s harangue and rant in the Parliament by Rahul Gandhi seem to be the harbinger of what I had anticipated. It was only a sample.

Looking back, I wonder if it was a sort of mystical prescience that made me pen those lines. It is no surprise, therefore, the newly elected first time MP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, Kangana Ranaut, described Rahul Gandhi’s speech as a ‘Stand-up Comedy Show.’ That was the beginning. The show will go on… but how long? Are we in for a Future Shock? Well, GoK.

Tailpiece: In the midst of his rant, Rahul Gandhi also complained about Modi not greeting him properly with a smile yesterday in the Parliament and the Speaker too not showing him the same reverence as shown to Modi on the day both of them led the Speaker Om Birla to the Chair and shook hands with him. Yes, both Modi and Birla gave Rahul an instant explanation. Alleluia.

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