Rahul Gandhi, who was for long treated as fodder for political jokes, seems to have dynamically changed and challenged the naysayers, in his recent fiasco at the parliament.
Rahul Gandhi has been an interesting figure in Indian politics. He is a media favourite, his smallest of actions carefully dissected and disseminated for public scrutiny. On Friday, 20th of July, what Rahul Gandhi did took the nation by surprise. The no-confidence motion and the visuals it offered, have fascinated the country even today, almost two-weeks later. While it was clear the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had the numerical strength but it was an unsatisfactory one. The motion itself was nothing special but the action of the Amethi MP and Congress president Rahul Gandhi created a perfect digital moment which went viral, triggered conversations and has already become a trending meme. The nation is well aware how fond our Prime Minister is of hugs. It seems Mr. Gandhi decided to beat him in his own game.
The hug has received both criticism and accolades but one thing can be said for sure that the Congress has learnt the importance of “symbolism and imagery “which is a key tool for a politician in the digitalised world today. So one could come up with a few explanations for the hug. It may have been an attempt to project the ruling party leaders as aggressors. Modi has often weighed down the opposition leader under his Nehruvian- Gandhi legacy. Maybe Gandhi’s hug could pre-empt the Prime Minister’s and other BJP leaders’ personal attack on him and his party in the course of the debate during the no-confidence motion.
The act could have been a tongue in cheek jibe at Modi’s act of hugging eminent political leaders in his attempt to establish cordial international relations with them. While the foreign policy at this moment is in shambles, his act may have been a clever attempt to remind the country about the government’s failure at this front. One might call it a shady move to highlight a contrast between the ideologies of the BJP/Sangh Parivar and the Congress. The Congress has often accused the Sangh of spreading the ideology of hatred and “angry hindutva” whereas the party asserts that its ideology stands for love and inclusiveness, especially in light of the recent incidents of killings and mob lynching of the poor and marginalised sections of the society.
Although there’s no denying that the hug was awkward, bizarre, unnatural, and most un-parliamentary. Rahul Gandhi invited a well-deserved rebuke from the speaker. He was finally put in his place, by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Hugging the prime minister might make a mockery of parliamentary rules, decorum and regulations, but it ensures that for once, people will keep talking about Rahul instead of Modi. One cannot deny it was a political masterstroke.
It is impossible to find out whether the hug was impromptu or a well-planned move. It would be to much of an exaggeration to state that a hug would completely change congress fortunes in the 2019 elections though. While this “hugoplomacy” might get congress media attention a serious change in campaign and policy strategies is what congress needs at this hour.
Feature Image Credits – NDTV