Failing is not a sin. Losing and election is not the end.
In fact, most of the success stories are built on failures. Real heroes and true leaders have emerged only when they were wounded and were left alone to die.
Why then does Rahul Gandhi believe he cannot succeed? The defeat in 2014 elections reduced the Grand Old Party of India – the Congress, to being a non-player and everyone wrote its obituary.
Sonia Gandhi couldn’t lead it anymore because of her failing health. Manmohan Singh never had a political base. Young leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia or Sachin Pilot were immediate threats to Rahul Gandhi. Handing over the rein to them would have meant the end of Gandhi dynasty. Seniors like Digvijay or Chidambaram were too smart for the dynasty to trust. Despite being a novice without any idea about India, it’s culture, the people and political dynamics of caste, region and religion, Rahul Gandhi was made the president of a fragile Congress.
This was a brilliant opportunity for Rahul to rebuild the party with a long-term goal of not 2019 but of 2024. He could have built a strong team of young leaders with original ideas, keeping the senior leaders with political experience to guide him. He could have been a young leader whose constituency would have been built on integrity and new politics.
Instead he chose to cover up his weaknesses by surrounding himself with people who played the role of an echo-chamber geared to just please and protect him – from the truth. I am sure when Rahul started his heart wanted to bring in new politics.
But he lost to a coterie.
Defeated leaders, unless they are courageous, start focusing on their rival’s strengths rather than their own. Rahul Gandhi misunderstood Narendra Modi’s historical win as a function of a social media campaign. Plus, he was made to believe that Bofors and all other scams like 2G, CWG, etc., were the opposition’s (the Bharatiya Janata Party’s) imagination.
Some of Rahul’s advisors convinced him that BJP built on telling a lie hundred times and the people of India are such fools that they believed in lies, and therefore, voted for Modi.
Nobody told him that Modi had immense experience, a successful track record and very high credibility. Modi is a great orator. Gandhi is not. Modi had a vision for India. Rahul Gandhi himself doesn’t have any vision or the political acumen to be able to differentiate between sycophancy and sincere advice. He fell for sycophancy because there weren’t any sincere advisors.
He hired some people as his speech writers who believe in telling lies — must be hard-core Congress loyalists. Rahul Gandhi started with small lies, more like exaggerations, but he was told by his coterie that he is making inroads in realpolitik, to give him confidence.
Congress started pumping all its money into buying bots, creating a team of photoshop artists and collecting paid crowds for Rahul’s public rallies. What no one told him that on social media you can have millions of followers but you may not be their leader.
Nobody did any analysis whether his followers believe in him or are there only to be entertained by him. A fake world of popularity was created like the famous Jim Carrey movie ‘The Truman Show’.
When Rahul’s rhetoric failed, he used exaggerations. When exaggerations failed, he was given the crutches of lies. When lies started failing, he started building fake stories. And when this strategy also failed, he became abusive, calling the prime minister a thief.
What Rahul Gandhi doesn’t realise is that he can never win against Narendra Modi on the charges of corruption. He must try a different strategy. Only if he has one.
Today, Rahul Gandhi stands for nothing. His politics has turned into lies, lies and more lies. Let’s look at Rahul’s bundle of lies on the Rafale deal:
1. Rahul Gandhi said that making Reliance an offset partner was a tradeoff for Dassault to get the deal with India: Rahul claimed this was said by Dassault. The truth is that Dassault never said choosing Reliance was mandatory. Only thing mandatory was the offsets clause, not any specific company. India wanted Dassault to fulfil certain offsets obligations so that the deal can go through. To fulfil offset obligations, Dassault was free to choose whoever they wished to deal with.
Dassault’s own press release says they have partnerships with companies such as Airworks, L&T, Godrej, Vedanta, BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL and hundred-odd other companies. Their CEO Eric Trappier, in an interview, has clearly said that Dassault has many offsets partners and Reliance is just one of them. He also said the choice of offsets partners is Dassault’s prerogative and Indian or French governments have no say in the matter.
2. Rahul Gandhi claimed that a senior officer at the Ministry of Defence was ‘punished’ by the Modi government for submitting a dissent note on the Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi claimed that the officer was forced to take leave when he presented his reservation about the benchmark price and later his objections were ‘overruled’ by another senior officer.
These claims turned out to be bogus as the officer himself spoke to the media and denied any kind of ‘punishment’. Busting the ‘forced leave’ narrative, he said that he was on an educational trip that was scheduled long before.
3. Rahul Gandhi claimed that there was a quid pro quo between Reliance and former President of France Francois Hollande: Gandhi claimed that Reliance Entertainment had financed ex-French President Hollande’s girlfriend, actress Julie Gayet’s movie. The truth is that Reliance Entertainment has no agreement with Julie Gayet or her company, Rouge International, nor has any payment ever been made by Reliance Entertainment to either of them in relation to the film.
In fact, Reliance clarified that it had invested in its partners Visvires Capital, a French financing firm, which had financed 15 per cent of the film. Rahul Gandhi was called out for this lie.
4. Rahul Gandhi, in a new low, said that ex-French President Hollande called PM Modi a thief: This was Rahul Gandhi’s social media team trolling and Gandhi was surely shooting from Hollande’s shoulders. Hollande contradicted Rahul Gandhi immediately and said that he was unaware of any pressure to choose Reliance as offsets partner and that only Dassault can answer if there was any pressure. Dassault has all through maintained that their offset partners are purely their choice.
In separate statements Dassault Aviation and the French government clarified that the pact for offset clause between Dassault and Reliance Defense was a private agreement between two companies and neither the French nor the Indian government was involved in it.
Rahul Gandhi who is an accused and out of bail in a fraud case, had lied, misquoting the ex-French President despicably.
5. Was Rahul Gandhi economical with truth even in Parliament?: Rahul Gandhi apparently lied in Parliament to international embarrassment when he claimed, “I personally met the French President (Emmanuel Macron) and asked him if there is such a pact between the French and Indian governments. The French President told me that there is no such pact between the French and Indian governments. This is the truth, and he told me that I have no objection to it (details of Rafale deal) being made public, you can tell it to entire India.” But to his embarrassment, soon the French government refuted Rahul Gandhi’s claim and said clearly that there is indeed a clause that prohibits both parties from sharing classified information.
The spokesperson of France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said, “France and India concluded in 2008 a security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner, that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defense equipment of India or France.” The French President said publicly in an interview that, “In India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can’t reveal all details.”
6. Rahul Gandhi lied that the Cabinet Committee on Security was never consulted on the Rafale deal: The truth is that the proposals in the Rafale deal were presented to the Defense Acquisition Council on three occasions and its directions were incorporated. The proposal then got a CCS nod only after which the Inter-Governmental Agreement happened between India & France in 2016.
7. When Rahul Gandhi was exposed for his untruths, as a last resort he blamed Dassault CEO Eric Trappier and called him a liar: In a candid interview to Smita Prakash of ANI, Trappier said “I do not lie. The truth I declared and statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation for lying. In my position as CEO, you don’t lie.”
Rahul Gandhi has been claiming that the National Democratic Alliance deal is more expensive than the UPA deal to which Trappier called out Gandhi’s claims, saying: “36 is double of 18, it should have been double the price, but we had to decrease the price by 9%… plus the Modi government insisted on offsets deal.”
On the Reliance joint venture, he said: “We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV (Dassault-Reliance). Shares in the JV are 49% for Dassault and 51% for Reliance.” On Rahul Gandhi’s bundle of lies, he said “I am sad.”
Rahul Gandhi’s lies have become jokes. The funniest meme doing the rounds on social media these days is of Rahul Gandhi quoting different prices of the Rafale aircraft in his own United Progressive Alliance deal. In Parliament, he said Rs 520 crore, in Karnataka, he said Rs 526 crore, in Rajasthan, he said Rs 540 crore, in Delhi, he said Rs 700 crore. Someone needs to tell him that national security is not a joke.
Rahul had the golden opportunity to emerge as a strong opposition leader. He had the opportunity to do penance for all of Congress’s sins and stand tall for his own integrity. But he turned out to be a joke.
There can’t be a day when some of his jokes don’t go viral on social media. And that is no joke for the world’s largest democracy. Like Trappier said, “It’s sad.”
Vivek Agnihotri is a filmmaker and the author of #1 bestseller ‘Urban Naxals’.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. These opinions do not reflect the views of SAE and SAE neither endorses nor assumes any responsibility or liability for the same.