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Has There Been A Modi-fication Of Rahul Gandhi?

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Now everyone is talking, discussing, and making memes on Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s speech during the no-confidence motion in the parliament. Despite raising several issues in his speech, it was Mr Gandhi’s uncalled move of hugging the Prime Minister that got the mainstream media’s spotlight.He approached the Prime Minister and gave him a surprising bear hug leaving both Modi and his cohorts bewildered. Though the entire episode superficially seemed to a fit of passion, it also appeared to be meticulously scripted.

Perhaps, Mr Gandhi’s unprecedented gesture was in line with his the promise he made before the media a few days ago to trigger a seismic tremor within the cradle of  Indian democracy that led him to stage such an unprecedented but histrionic performance. His speech and actions reflect an inspiring and empowered leader who is not only confident, but also eloquent. Gone are the days when this scion of Gandhi family was a bundle of nerves who happened to slip his tongue on multiple public occasions. Today’s Rahul Gandhi is not just charging on the ruling party, he’s gradually turning into a real pain in the arse for the top leadership of BJP. This latest episode attests to the speculation that the next general election will again be a confrontation (like the U.S. Presidential Election, 2016) between Modi and Gandhi. Except this time, Mr Gandhi may take a bite out of Mr Modi’s rhetorics and lock horns like an astute politician who has learned to pick his way through the rubble.

However, Rahul Gandhi’s every move gives a glimpse of the “Modi effect”. His antics, speeches, and even his expressions appear as an attempt to emulate Modi. Remember the first time we saw or heard of Rahul Gandhi? Back then, media used to refer to him as  “the successor of Congress leadership”. He was young, aspiring, and soft-spoken. Although an ambivert, he never shied away from visiting a Dalit family and spend a night with them. We knew that visiting or sharing food with the poor would not change their routine household chores or destiny overnight. But, it was a token gesture that put across the message that he was with them no matter how poor or downtrodden they were. The government was working towards making their lives better.

Sometimes a gesture of benevolence and kindness is worth more than a zillion condescending services in the name of favours. People saw hope in Rahul Gandhi who was as soft-spoken as his father and former Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi and as resolute as his grandmother and one of the strongest Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi. He was supposedly the first and still is the only leader who goes by his gut and acknowledges that it is by virtue of nepotism and dynastic hierarchy in Congress, he is the party’s President.

At the same time, he makes sure that such a malady of dynastic possession, the obvious nepotism which has become an heirloom of Congress must not go on after him. He also noticed that this nepotistic culture is rampant across several regional and national parties in the country as well. One can find from initial timelines (figure out from his initial days as a politician – is much better) that he never strived to slip into the shoes of a cunning, shrewd politician. Rather, slowly but steadily, he was slithering towards becoming a strong and polite leader who could carry forth the legacy of his great-grandfather, Pandit Nehru and grandmother, Indira Gandhi, to new heights.

Somebody of Indian sanskaars, will never display such demeanour as respect for elders is the basic expectation in our culture.

So, what went wrong? I presume every goal is achieved through perseverance and meticulous effort. Rahul Gandhi lacked both. His life is full of contradictions wherein his every step forward is followed by a myopic decision taking him two steps back. Every election, he blesses his party members with his presence like a Halley’s Comet, appearing only when elections are around the corner and vanishing as soon as the legislative carnival bids adieu. This tendency to revert to lackadaisical political hibernation has become his quintessential foible which still haunts Congress. This weakness in Rahul Gandhi has not only left Congress in a quandary but also willing to seek recourse in his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Many party members are quitting or struggling to embolden their leadership without any direction from the Party President.

The new avatar of Rahul Gandhi is merely a replica of Narendra Modi. While flaunting his panache with Modi’s temperament, Rahul Gandhi is neither relatable nor convincing. All of his newly acquired aggression and muscle flexing, his angry ‘middle-aged’ man attitude is orchestrated with help from a coterie of advisers who are completely detached from the country’s ground realities. What we are watching is a gullible guy picking up the slack to be the leader of the opposition. Meanwhile, the nation is worried by the growing RSS-patronized agitation and escalating attrition between majority and minority communities. India is currently facing numerous hurdles on various fronts which are obstructing its sustainable development.

Rahul Gandhi could be the answer to such a situation. But he can’t become the answer by stepping into the shoes of Narendra Modi. Firstly, because this is neither his personality nor does it suit him, regardless of what he and his courtiers think. Secondly, he fails miserably. Take for instance, the speech he delivered which was both soporific and disinteresting I feel. Neither did it comprise anything new, nor was it something really relevant and cogent. His claims against the Rafael deal were declined by the media spokesperson of the French Government. This makes him no different from Narendra Modi who is infamous for quoting wrong statistics and facts during his otherwise marvellous oratory. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, is untenable when he makes an error. But, he gives in before the opposition, only to be subjected to even more humiliation.

One doesn’t need much effort to discover the sheer contrast in his motive and conduct. Like before, he hugged the Prime Minister to manifest the open-heart and liberal mindset of the opposition having no issue in accepting the BJP. Had he remained calm and composed for a while, at least till the end of the session, the Congress would have gained an upper hand over the BJP. But our ‘Southpaw’ laidback and committed one minor mistake of winking on camera. This not only backfired but may have long-term repercussions where everything that’s well-crafted and executed by the Congress may end up going in vain.

The contrast in both his actions proves that Rahul Gandhi needs to introspect and reinstate his inherent traits which made him one of the country’s most beloved politicians. One doesn’t need to join the evil if one fails at beating it. Rahul Gandhi doesn’t need to behave like Narendra Modi or follow his intransigent, erratic, and repulsive version of nationalism and Hinduism. Instead, he should stick to the legacy of his great-grandfather Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who once said, “Ultimately what we really are matters more than what other people think of us.”

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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