Friday, May 29, 2015

The RaGa 2.0 Strategy - Shoot & Scoot

Have you noticed Rahul Gandhi of late?  

Unless you have been holidaying in some cool climes away from India you could not have escaped the information overload about the new look RaGa. The RaGa who is taking pot shots at the government almost on a daily basis has had reams of print and lots of airtime dedicated to him.

Rahul Gandhi seems to be adopting a ‘shoot and scoot’ policy and this is being lapped up by both Congressmen and the media. The latest one-liner was the one about Dr Man Mohan Singh being invited to 7 RCR to lecture (paathshala was the word he used) Narendra Modi on the Indian economy. One would have to admit that this was a funny comment. But it was just that. A funny comment delivered to a group of students (the NSUI) with a naughty school boy glint.

What was the response to it? Coverage on all news channels with motor-mouth Arnab Goswami leading the tribe with (probably) an entire hour dedicated to dissecting the comment.

Why is there this kind of coverage to any and all utterances by RaGa? Is this a result of Rahul having lowered expectations to such an extent that so long as he does not trip himself up while walking on a flat, impediment free, ground he is going to be hailed as a miracle worker?

I obviously have no idea if any or all of his interventions are very well researched or well thought through or are merely meant to be facetious. However, clearly, in spite of the condescension that the BJP brigade seems to have for him, he seems to have rattled the BJP with these comments.

I wonder why? What is it that Rahul Gandhi is doing now that is so worrying for the BJP?

In my opinion it is not Rahul per se that they are afraid of. They seem to be afraid of the power of the tabloid press and the television media to take sound bites and create or destroy an image of a person or a party based on that. In most debates on television, there is no scope for a nuanced exchange of views. It is literally a shouting match between the panelists with the anchor joining in for good measure on most channels.

In such situations, it is these smart ass comments that win through. These comments do not mean anything, they do not add to the understanding of any issue and they definitely do not have any erudition backing them up. But they grab headlines. They seem to have the ability to rouse the faithful and demoralize opponents.

This is probably why the BJP is responding to these barbs thrown at them by Rahul and why they seem a bit flustered when doing so. After all the BJP knows the power of the smart one-liners – 56 inch ki chaathi, Maa Bete ki Sarkaar, Yuvraj come immediately to mind.    

This is where it gets worrying for the country. If public discourse is going to be reduced to slanging matches on television and in Parliament and it is the politician with the one-liner who gets the accolades then we are on a slippery slope. And irrespective of what Rahul and Modi say about each other it clearly does not bode well for the country because we need erudition in comments made by politicians. Not just silly one-liners and nicknames. We can leave those to stand-up comedians.  

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