A day before the third phase of the ongoing 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday faced a massive embarrassment and his party a major jolt as he was forced to express regrets over his “Chowkidar chor hai” (security guard is a thief) “lie”.
Incidentally, Wayanad in Kerala, from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, goes to polls on Tuesday.
In the 22-page counter-affidavit filed by Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court, he has expressed “regret” for wrongly attributing “Chowkidar chor hai” remark to it.
It will prove to be a loss of face for Rahul Gandhi. He admitted to the court that he got carried away in the heat of the election campaigning.
This will hurt the Congress in the next five phases of elections. So far just over 200 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies have gone to polls in the first two phases. The election will be held in 337 seats in the next five phases.
Rahul Gandhi’s regret to Supreme Court over his ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ lie will reinforce the perception that he was an irresponsible and immature politician.
BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi ‘s contempt petition against Rahul Gandhi does grave damage to his image.
Armed with the Supreme Court order, the BJP has hit Rahul Gandhi hard. It has always been stating that the Congress president “speaks lies” and “misrepresents” facts. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has even written Facebook blogs accusing him of deliberately and repeatedly telling lies.
Soon after Rahul Gandhi’s affidavit was submitted in the Supreme Court, the BJP started its drive to prove that he was a “liar”.
Union textiles minister Smriti Irani, who is contesting on a BJP ticket against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, said the people will not forgive Rahul Gandhi for his “lie”.
She said, “Rahul Gandhi, who accused the chowkidar of being a thief, has admitted that he is a liar. The people will not forgive Rahul Gandhi who thinks the citizens of this country are fools and who insults the prime minister and the Supreme Court.”
The BJP has demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi and accused him of being a “liar of the first order” in public opinion.
The Congress president did not have any other resort but to express regret because the Supreme Court had on April 15 given a categorical clarification that, in its December 2018 judgment, it did not mention the contemptuous observation that “chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain” as was attributed to it by Rahul Gandhi.
Addressing a press conference here, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said, “Today, by filing an affidavit in the honourable SC, Rahul Gandhi accepted that he had lied on his allegations against PM Modi. This was an attempt by Rahul Gandhi to manufacture a lie and create a controversy in the Rafale deal… He should apologise to the people of this country… In public opinion, Rahul Gandhi is a liar of the first order.”
As elections are fought also on perceptions, the BJP and its NDA partners will, in the days to come, amplify Rahul Gandhi’s admission in the Supreme Court.
They would also try to create an impression that Rahul Gandhi has been lying not just about the Rafale deal but also other issues such as Nyay (minimum income guarantee scheme), jobs and farm loan waiver.
With the Congress’s track record on fulfilling poll promises being far from satisfactory, the voters may lap up the BJP’s “Rahul is a liar” campaign.
It is up to Rahul Gandhi himself and the Congress party to control the damage done to their image. It remains to be seen whether the Congress president will change tack or continue with his diatribes, most of which are unverifiable, against the Modi government.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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