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As Opposition, You Have Failed Us Miserably: An Open Letter To Rahul Gandhi

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Dear Mr Gandhi,

Before you label me as saffron, let me help you by saving your effort and openly declaring my political support for the BJP (NDA) and Mr Modi.

You can’t silence and not listen to voices like mine, just because of that B-tag. Just so you know, I’m not only a supporter of the BJP, but also a critic too. I am the most critical supporter of this government for the good governance part it delivers (or it promised to deliver). But this letter is not about them. This is about you.

Being a 20-something millennial of this fastly growing and evolving democratic-republic, I didn’t have the chance to witness the rise of a leader like Modi, or any other big shots. But what I did get to see is, you growing and trying to find a place in the political narrative of this country, while I was growing. And hence this letter is being addressed to you.

When demonetization happened a year ago, I believed that I neither had enough expertise about it, nor possess the qualification to comment on it. Hence, I accepted those assurances from Mr Modi silently, while you along with many others were making voices of dissent against it. It’s been more than a year since then. I clearly see that many and most of the primary objectives of that policy, which includes curtailing the shadow economy and crack down on the use of illicit cash, that our PM had announced have failed.

When I assess the merits and demerits of it as a common man, I see faults more than the merits. The reason could be anything, from improper planning to ineffective execution to anything or maybe the policy itself is fundamentally flawed. In total, it was and is a failure. But more than I want to hold Mr Modi accountable for it, I want to pass a fair and significant share of that failure to your account also.

Yes, you failed us an opposition. When they were voted around 31% of votes and you were given around 20% of votes, there’s a significant responsibility on you too. Clearly, you were given a less but still essential mandate by the people of this country. And you and your 132-year-old party have utterly failed in performing your duties.

We counted on you to bring up the demerits of that policy and question the government on it. But you didn’t or maybe you couldn’t. You choose to hold on to it for your advantage thereby rendering absolutely no use of you. You failed us, man! You failed us.

Had you have genuinely fought for us on that issue, maybe people would’ve voted for you in the UP elections conducted after that demonetization demon. Learn a lesson or two from your forefathers’ effort during the freedom struggle with INC (before they turned INC into family business). They fought for Indian freedom – for people of India, not for the party, and maybe that’s why won a whopping 45% of votes in the first General Elections of Independent India.

It’s just not about the demonetization. There is also the new Goods and Services Tax. I am not well versed on that subject of economics. And so, all I see it as, is a single, clear tax instead of a list of the usual taxes. The restaurant near my house hands me over a bill after the meal which clearly shows me the tax they charge and a TIN for me to verify it from the portal. As a sincere tax paying citizen, I expect my fellow citizens to do it too. With that bill, I see a part of my wish fulfilled.

I understand it’s a small example. But, if you really believe that GST is more of a bane than boom, I’d appreciate if you could and would make a serious effort in helping a common like me know about it. But it turns out, your party would rather let your political big shots tweet about it with pretty big terms and numbers that’ll have no use in making us understand it. We will love to hear you if your intention is for the people gain, rather than just to tarnish the image of government.

I understand, how difficult for a political amateur like you to stand up against Mr Modi, who is not just at the advanced level but a pro-level. It can and will, take you time to reach his level of oratory skills and gain the charisma he has. After all, he began his political journey much before you and has a twice the experience you do. But you have to begin somewhere. You can’t hide from people or snub the lack of response and interest from people behind the curtain of those reasons. For a start, please read and reread multiple times, at least tens of times what you are about to say and before you say it. In this 21st century, we need a leader or a politician, who can express correctly and fluently what he thinks, feels and intends to do.

We need someone, who’d make an extra effort to communicate with us. We want you to make us feel like you are talking to each one of us individually, even in a public roadshow or meeting. A piece of free advice, please think and start preparing in advance about what you intend to speak about every little thing and please, please avoid gaffes in your speeches. Stop becoming easy targets for these memes. We need someone who’d symbolize a man, not a boy.

And then there’s intolerance, the term I’ve heard the first time in my life, maybe only after the BJP came to power. Despite being a supporter of the BJP, I acknowledge the growing dissent, intolerance for thoughts and faith.

I witness it in the society I live in, now and then. I discuss with my father (who himself is a big supporter of BJP) about this intolerance and try to make him aware of its seriousness, often ending up with heated debates and arguments. I acknowledge that the lynchings by so-called religious mobs had grown in this government’s term. But all you and your party would do about it is condemn it, and then strongly condemn it. And when parliament sits, you’d just disrupt it instead of directly question the government and demanding their response and action.

For the viewers of the parliament session like me, it portrays a picture that is identical to a playschool with kids shouting at one another and making a mess while the teacher(speaker) sits there helplessly. This, is not expected from a responsible opposition. You must take initiatives more than just condemning for that extremist religious ideologies. Have a real, serious, dedicated fight against the government for the people.

Just when I realised that secularity was disappearing in the state of affairs of this government and you could be a future alternative in this front, you too have entered the same path that this administration has gone.

In the recent Gujarat elections, in every single rally of yours, I see a Rahul with a big tilak (vermillion). I see a Rahul who makes sure he visits a temple (just temple, not any other religious place unlike in UP), wherever he goes. Sorry but I haven’t seen the same Rahul during the UP elections or for that matter any elections. Sure our constitution has given the right to follow the religion of your choice. And people like you and Modi who would represent a system are not expected to put your religious reservations and beliefs on the front end.

I am a strong believer and support of the separation of state and religion. And somehow I thought, unlike Mr Modi you share my beliefs. But this desperate act of yours, to gain the traditional Hindu religious votes of Gujarat, which are the majority had put you on the same page with every communal leader and politician I despise. Thank for publicly showing your true colour on this religious front.

In your much praised and cheered recent talk at Berkley about dynasty succession culture, you said “Most of the country runs like this, so don’t go after me” and you were using Akhilesh Yadav, Stalin, Abhishek Bachchan and others as an example. Should I be the one to tell you how absurd that defence is?

I don’t think I have to tell you about the infamous performances of the people you were talking in your defence. You say, you were born to and inherited a dynastic structure but what effort did you make to change it? Or at least think about changing and improving it. To set an example for the coming generations. Yet, you failed.

You may have won as a president of your party, but you failed miserably as a responsible leader. When the old guard of your party had made blatant statements about only a Gandhi can lead the party, you failed to oppose or criticise their stereotypical thoughts. Look around, the USA, 156 years ago had set an example by electing the son of a farmer, a carpenter known Abraham Lincoln as their President. In our own country, a tea seller had become not just a Prime Minister but one of the most powerful men in the world. And in this 21st century, you still get stuck in that dynasty system. No wonder you earn the title of ‘shahanshah.’

Yes, I was an ardent supporter, and partly still I’m of the BJP and Mr Modi for its development agenda, for its history, for its internal democracy, for its no regime structure. But I’m unhappy with its stance on religious minorities, growing intolerance, lack of concern for the high unemployment rate. I have no interest in fighting for the construction of a temple or a masjid in any place. So are millions of this country. Those concrete structures are not going to help me feed my stomach or help me reach my aims and aspirations. I’m least bothered about people marrying partners of their own choice irrespective any differences because I believe it’s their personal and private affair and neither me nor does anyone have right to violate it. When one Mata (Ganga Mata – An vital lifeline to millions) is getting polluted and struggling to breathe and survive, I don’t want my perfectly structured society to be disturbed for another Mata (Gau Mata) that too at the cost of my fellow human’s life.

I’m looking for an alternate leader, for an alternate establishment who should at least win my confidence, before winning my vote. Like they say, better late than never. If you are willing to make an effort to improve yourself, your actions, thoughts and of your party and the people that represent it, I along with many others are willing to give you a chance to get into power to bring the change we want to, and you want to for a better India.

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  1. Anish Kumar

    Hi Manideep, nice article. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it .I am also in same situation as you in.My entire family and me are a follower of BJP and modi since long time. And i also support and applaud government for taking some bold steps like demonetization, GST or triple talak. However it am really worried about communal situation of our country. Minorities are feeling insecure under current government. Incident which happened in Rajasthan where a Muslim laborer was brutally murdered in the name of reglion. Not just that, thousand of people had came on road to show support for the murderer.There is intolerance in the society and government has to accept it.

    1. Manideep G

      Thanks, Anish for sharing your views on this. I agree with your views. The symptoms of rising ‘Totalitarianism’ form of government is a grave concern.

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