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Turning Tables

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All the noise about Rafale is targeted at making it an election issue. This becomes even more obvious with the assertion by Rahul Gandhi that the deal would be examined if the Congress comes to power. The obvious calculation is that learning about the aircraft’s purchase should become seemingly so important that it overrides as many other issues as possible and gives the party a winning edge. Even if the government were to agree to formation of a JPC, members of the opposition would ensure they come up with some or the other objection. Who cares if there is any truth in it, as long as the objective is achieved? What the impact of such actions would be on India’s already challenged security preparedness, particularly of its Air Force, becomes a serious concern. After having wasted over a decade and failing to buy aircraft that were needed fifteen years ago, the effort is on to delay it further. Exactly whose purpose does it serve, apart from that of the Congress?
Apart from having shifted the goalposts several times ever since the Rafale controversy was generated, the Congress – particularly Rahul Gandhi who is leading the charge – keeps repeating the charges despite clarifications having been given many times in and outside Parliament, including by the Defence Minister on Friday. The insistence on obviously misleading aspects is political and little more. The question for all parties concerned is how much will the common public understand the intricacies involved for it to have political implications during the elections?
The questions – sincere and insincere – were more than substantially answered in the debate held in the Lok Sabha on Friday, but it will be the task of the contending parties to interpret it in their own way for the people to deliver the final verdict at the polls. Since the Congress seems, for the present at least, determined to pursue the matter, it also provides the BJP an excellent opportunity to lay out in simple terms its case so that the same can be turned to its advantage. It can seek a sympathy vote on the basis of ‘honest people falsely accused’, a beginning to which was given by Sitharaman at the end of her statement in the House. It is human nature to believe the worst of everybody, which the Congress is banking upon, but people also have an inherent sense of justice. If the BJP can tap into that, it could reap a rich harvest from what the Congress has come to believe is its advantage.