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Questionable Strategy


Even as Rahul Gandhi has got an extension on his bail in his defamation case and is hoping to have his conviction suspended, he is not exactly putting himself in a position to get out of the jam. He is obviously not receiving correct advice on the issue because he continues to insist he is ‘fighting for the truth’. This would imply that he stands by his defamatory remarks. While these statements are being made outside the court, they could have an impact on proceedings if reflected in arguments for his defence.

The simplest way for him to get out of the jam is to apologise, and the more he insists on sticking by the ‘truth’, the less scope there will be for him to do so. While the focus, at present, is on getting his conviction suspended so that he can regain his membership of the Lok Sabha, it must not be forgotten that, for want of a proper defence, even a lesser sentence could mean time behind bars. As cases pile up against him for other transgressions of the law, having a ‘criminal record’ is not going to help in obtaining leniency from the courts.

The Congress is probably setting him up as a ‘martyr’ to the cause of defeating the BJP and PM Narendra Modi in the next Lok Sabha elections in the belief that the cases – as is the norm in India – will continue for years to come. By then, the political battle will have been hopefully fought and won. However, should the BJP score a win, it is Rahul Gandhi who will pay the price. Is the risk worth taking? Why the desperation?

The scenarios being projected for an opposition victory do not visualise Congress as the major vote-getter. It is the regional parties with strong roots in some important states that could provide the winning number of seats. As such, the likelihood of Rahul Gandhi benefiting from even a victory is low, certainly from the point of view of being the prime ministerial candidate. As has happened in the past, coalitions can throw up all kinds of unexpected compromise candidates such as Charan Singh, Chandrashekhar, HD Devegowda and IK Gujral who did not exactly contribute to stability. Even Sonia Gandhi could not claim the position after a victory and had to make way for Dr Manmohan Singh. It doesn’t make sense, therefore, for Rahul Gandhi to adopt a strategy that will cause him real and lasting harm.