Rahul Gandhi needs better briefing on IS and development narrative before shooting from the hip in Germany

It isn’t clear precisely when however someday after the 2014 debacle, Congress realised that Rahul Gandhi has an “picture drawback”. Politicians often take liberties with reality. Generally they could make real errors, generally they spin narratives out of details and falsities. These are taken as par for the course. Factual inaccuracies not often dent the electoral marketability of a pacesetter in India’s rambunctious democracy.

In Rahul’s case, nonetheless, Congress concluded that he’s at a definite drawback in comparison with his friends (particularly the articulate Narendra Modi) as a result of individuals take him to be childish, immature and dismiss him as “non-serious”. It is a severe handicap for a politician, particularly if that particular person aspires for the prime minister’s chair. Not solely are the errors and fake pas dedicated by such a politician amplified in public discourse however his management talents additionally come below query. For the anointed inheritor of India’s First Household, this was proving to be a tough drawback.

The BJP social media technique of portraying the 40-plus Rahul as a ‘man-child’ could have performed its half. However the Congress president’s bewildering public utterances and a seeming lack of dedication in his political profession additionally contributed to the headache. No matter stands out as the purpose, the Congress understood that it had a problem to resolve. It took a number of steps.

The social gathering’s identify was linked to Cambridge Analytica (CA), the worldwide agency that makes use of large information to (amongst different issues) form public opinion and even affect elections. Congress claims it never signed any deal with the corporate. However whistleblower Christopher Wylie, a former worker of CA, told a London court in March this 12 months whereas deposing earlier than a British Parliamentary panel that he believes Congress was certainly a consumer of CA.

It was clear that an earnest transfer to repackage model ‘Rahul’ was underway. Congress first sought to deal with the notion that ‘Rahul Gandhi is an immature, gaffe-prone chief’. The problem was to make him seem as “cerebral”, not simply to counter the favored notion however to bolster the narrative that he’s a “higher various to Modi”. As a part of that transfer, previous Household devoted Sam Pitroda was tasked with brushing up Rahul’s cerebral quotient.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Hamburg. PTI

Pitroda, who had served the Manmohan Singh authorities as an advisor to the prime minister on Public Data Infrastructure and Innovation and is credited with taking part in a significant position in ushering within the technological revolution in India within the 1980s, is a well-connected man. He labored his networks and organized a two-week go to for Rahul within the US. The then vice-president of his social gathering, Rahul, met a collection of Silicon Valley worthies and addressed College college students within the US in September final 12 months. He additionally took questions.

This served a number of broad functions. One, it allowed Rahul to be portrayed as an “clever younger man” and a “thought chief” and nullified his picture of a puerile ‘man-child’. Two, it allowed Rahul the time, area and context to select problems with his alternative and criticise Modi. That is tough in an outrage-driven media mannequin the place one problem is shortly changed by the subsequent. Three, the occasion’s excessive visibility in Indian media allowed Congress the prospect to construct a story in opposition to the federal government. Indians nonetheless connect enormous worth to “overseas validations”.

4, it strengthened Rahul’s place of management throughout the social gathering and despatched a message to potential rivals of his suitability for the highest job. Fifth and most essential, Rahul’s fixed barbs, expenses and allegations in opposition to the prime minister constructed (or the Congress definitely hoped it will) a kind of equivalence between Modi and Rahul. The Congress (then) vice-president’s technique of focusing solely on Modi was aimed toward decreasing the recognition hole between the 2.

Rahul’s Germany sojourn is a reiteration of the identical playbook. Congress has been enthused by recent opinion poll findings that Rahul is decreasing the hole with Modi on reputation chart. The transfer to go to totally different German cities and take potshots on the Modi authorities from every venue is guided by the identical ideas.

In a go to to Hamburg on Wednesday, Rahul once more tore into Modi’s insurance policies. His interplay with the gathering on the Bucerius Summer season College in Hamburg was a mix of advert hominem assaults on Modi, criticisms in opposition to his authorities and platitudinal remarks on world points.

It will appear that Congress has eventually stumbled upon a system to counter Modi’s nonetheless formidable reputation at dwelling and has managed to position Rahul on the entrance and centre of the counter-strategy. In his mission, Rahul is being assisted by Shashi Tharoor, some of the articulate of all Congress heavyweights. Tharoor had accompanied Rahul in the course of the US go to as properly. On the floor, Congress’s techniques appear coherent, purposeful and disruptive.

But for all of the mixed effort, Rahul nonetheless leaves so much to be desired with regards to articulation of ideas or presenting options for the very lacunae that he’s highlighting. Usually, his grasp of the complexity of a problem appears superficial. He appears out of depth or suffers from an incapability to assist criticisms with information. Additionally, a few of his concepts are fairly disconcerting.

As an example, whereas commenting on inequality in India, Rahul gave the impression to be suggesting that if authorities adopts “exclusionary insurance policies”, it might create resentment and result in insurgency actions just like the Islamic State. Rahul cited a regulation in Iraq that apparently “prevented” a selected tribe from getting jobs and he went on to assert that it will definitely led to the beginning of the Islamic State. In itself, this postulation is problematic sufficient, however Rahul didn’t cease there.

He segued this concept to occasions in India the place he claimed that Modi authorities’s “exclusion” of tribals, Dalits and minorities from the event narrative “might be a harmful factor”. He went on to say, according to media reports, that “it is rather harmful within the 21st century to exclude individuals… For those who don’t give individuals a imaginative and prescient within the 21st century, any person else will. And that’s the true danger of excluding a lot of individuals from the event course of.”


There are so many things wrong with Rahul’s assertion and speculation that we have to proceed one after the other. First, the Congress president appears to be unaware of the origin of the Islamic State, whose rise is inextricably linked to Al-Qaeda, the Sunni insurgency motion and the US invasion of Iraq. To oversimplify the origin of the Islamic State to ‘post-Saddam’ Iraq authorities’s determination to disallow Tikriti tribal community from getting positions within the administration is deceptive and plain improper. In any case, the Shia-dominated Iraqi authorities’s determination was to exclude Baathists from their posts and disallow the Saddam regime technocrats from becoming a member of the brand new authorities, not a blanket ban on Tikrit inhabitants.

This conflation turns into extra severe when Rahul hyperlinks the rise of Islamist terrorism with the event narrative. His underlying suggestion, that “exclusion of individuals from improvement course of” results in insurgency actions, is a discredited thesis unsupported by information. Unique concentrate on the hyperlink between terrorism and social welfare (or lack of it) undermines the cultural, political and ideological causes that underline the creation of the Islamic State. It’s preposterous to assert that poverty and inequality result in terrorism.

In a coverage evaluation for the US-based Hoover Establishment, Shmuel Bar writes on the Religious Sources of Islamic Terrorism. His paper makes the essential level that “grievance” narrative alone can’t clarify terrorism.

“It’s a tendency in politically oriented Western society to imagine that there’s a rational pragmatic trigger for acts of terrorism and that if the political grievance is addressed correctly, the phenomenon will fade. Nevertheless, when the roots usually are not political, it’s naïve to count on political gestures to vary the hearts of radicals. Makes an attempt to take care of the terrorist risk as if it had been divorced from its mental, cultural, and non secular fountainheads are doomed to failure. Counter-terrorism begins on the religious-ideological stage and should undertake applicable strategies. The cultural and non secular sources of radical Islamic ideology have to be addressed as a way to develop a long-range technique for dealing with the terrorist risk to which they offer beginning.”

A 2016 World Financial institution examine primarily based on leaked paperwork from the Islamic State finds that its recruits are prone to be “properly educated”. The examine discovered that “69% of recruits reported at the very least a secondary stage training whereas 15% left college earlier than highschool and fewer than 2% are illiterate”. The report additionally discovered that “neither inequality nor poverty was a driver of involvement in violent extremism, and wealthier nations had been extra prone to provide overseas recruits for ISIS”, in accordance with The Guardian.

Radicalised youths who take to violent extremism usually are not simply typical unemployed, disgruntled people. They might be prosperous youths working below sturdy motivations that can not be defined by the event narrative. Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker who blew up one of many Twin Towers on 9/11, “shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut” in his final full day of life.

One doesn’t know if Rahul is conscious that Jihadi John, the infamous Islamic State terrorist recognized for public beheading of victims, was a British national named Mohammed Emwazi “from a well-to-do household who grew up in West London and graduated from school with a level in laptop programming.”

Now, let’s come to Rahul’s claims about Modi authorities’s “exclusionary insurance policies”. That’s all what his elaborate speculation is about.

Rahul might not be conscious that Modi’s flagship welfare schemes are literally doing fairly properly in reaching out and in accordance monetary inclusion, LPG connection, electrification, transportation connectivity and reasonably priced housing to the final man within the queue.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) has brought 80 percent of adults and nearly all households throughout the monetary inclusion internet, progress in LPG connection has accelerated to touch the five-crore mark, electrification of villages has been completed, although that doesn’t imply that each one rural households have electrical energy. Rural India is slated to get 100 percent toilet coverage by December 2018, development of homes has picked up and thousands and thousands are slated to be introduced below medical health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat.

These welfare schemes contact the lives of the poor essentially the most. In line with an article in Open magazine, “as per authorities information until March 23rd, 2018, of the over 35 million free LPG connections, 29.9 per cent have been distributed to Dalits… Scheduled Tribes, who kind 8.2 per cent of India, have gotten 14.three per cent of the brand new connections… In Uttar Pradesh, the place SCs make up 21.1 per cent of the state, they account for 40.5 per cent of the 6.5 million connections awarded. In Punjab, the state with the very best proportion of Dalits, at 28.9 per cent, they’ve 68 per cent of those giveaways. In Karnataka, the place SCs and STs collectively make up 22.Eight per cent of all individuals, the 2 communities have been beneficiaries of 47.three per cent of the connections given out.”

It isn’t clear what Rahul Gandhi meant when he said: “BJP authorities feels tribal communities, poor farmers, decrease caste individuals, minorities should not get the identical advantages because the elite.”

Rahul’s wild conjectures, as a substitute of refuting, reinforces the notion that he stays a peripheral politician who skims the floor of discourse and is solely in issuing sensational statements to seize eyeballs. It does little to counter the impression that he’s a non-serious chief. Furthermore, the concept of highlighting India’s drawbacks and variations (not all correct) could enhance his world standing however could not go down properly with the voters in India. Does Rahul plan to contest in Germany?

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