His comment provided enough ammunition for the BJP, which has bestowed upon itself the position of protector of Hindu culture and pride, to push back with all guns blazing
Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Yatra. File Pic/ PTI
Just when it appeared that Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra seemed to be gathering steam as it entered Maharashtra earlier this month, the march’s protagonist fired an unnecessary salvo against the hero of the right wing, Veer Savarkar, derailing any momentum the initiative might have gained so far.
Neutral observers threw their hands up in despair, wondering why Gandhi would attack Savarkar in his birth state. But it doesn’t really take a genius to figure out that the Congress leader meant what he said, and meant to say it where he did. His comment provided enough ammunition for the BJP, which has bestowed upon itself the position of protector of Hindu culture and pride, to push back with all guns blazing.
There were two fundamental flaws in Rahul’s tactic. First—it alienates even the most moderate Hindus who might have had some curiosity, if not sympathy, towards what he was doing to galvanise support for his party.
Second, it shows that the Congress is still weighed down by the Hindutva plank. Rahul should have known that it will always be a losing battle to fight the ruling party over this angle.
Here is where the grand old men of the state Congress should have intervened with wise counsel. It is not as if the state lacks serious issues. Heck, the ink has barely died on the swearing in papers of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, propped up under a cloud of alleged horse-trading. And there are so many grassroots level issues plaguing Maharashtra, all of which could have been used by the Congress man to take potshots at the BJP.
Political observers with a soft corner for the Congress have tried to put a positive spin on their boss man’s comments, but it can safely be said that there is no redeeming angle here. The only thing Rahul Gandhi, and the Congress, can now do is treat it as a costly lesson and tread with caution in the future.