Whatever Rahul Gandhi chooses to attack his major political opponent with may be his prerogative.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has made an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court. The act of contrition has been forced upon him by the severe stand that the court took against him for his earlier expression of regret, which was made flippantly and in brackets. He has said now that he had “unintentionally and inadvertently” linked the court’s Rafale case order to his “Chowkidar chor hai” phrase against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Along with his new affidavit comes a request that the court end the contempt case against him. His earlier reluctance to use the word “apology” seemed strange indeed, as much as his admission now seems contrived to the extent that it is a damage limitation exercise for fear that the court may leave the case open for contempt action. The belated admission that the wrongful attributions were “entirely unintentional, non-wilful and inadvertent” is symptomatic of the candidate’s immature approach to the issue when accosted by the court taking umbrage.
Whatever Rahul Gandhi chooses to attack his major political opponent with may be his prerogative. But dragging the Supreme Court needlessly into the issue after it had agreed to hear the Rafale review petition in what was a clear case of the judges’ open mind when presented with fresh revelations was emblematic of unwisdom. In his obsessive one-line campaign of “Chowkidar chor hai”, the Congress president may have lost all sense of proportion. While that may have been easily forgiven in the case of a young politician who has never held an administrative position in the executive branch of government anywhere despite heading a national party, it was Rahul's insistence on a risible “regret” in brackets that raised the dander of the court. By his own admission, Rahul had said that he had made a genuine mistake in saying that the Supreme Court had said it.
The barbs of “chor” have dominated the hustings to an even greater extent with the Prime Minister retaliating in kind by digging up the old Bofors allegations to dub the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as “Bhrashtachari No. 1”. The huge outcry against dragging a former PM who fell victim to a blatant political assassination on Indian soil by a foreign terrorist organisation may also lead to the Prime Minister Modi realising his mistake in offending sensibilities by picking on a dead leader. Corruption may be endemic to arms purchases, a fact made out in decades of public political debate over the phenomenon, which also served as the campaign peg against the Congress in the 1980s. What the excessive reliance on making the same charges of corruption in weapons and aircraft purchases over and over again by both sides has done is to paper over various other issues that may be considered more pressing from the voters’ point of view as well as that of the country. A point to ponder is also about what should a country think of its leaders who have such labels as “chor” and “Bhrashtachari” for each other.