Will Sonia Gandhi be able to Ride the Sympathy Wave if she is Jailed?

Amrit Hallan’s commentary on the possibility of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi going to prison in the National Herald case.

Many are of the opinion that if the Narendra Modi government takes a tough stand against the various scams carried out by Sonia Gandhi and her henchmen and women, and if somehow she ends up in jail, she will ride on the sympathy wave and the Congress party will come back to power.

Can this happen?

There is a gloomy precedence. After the unparalleled transgressions of the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, the Janata Party, led by a hodgepodge of anti-Congress leaders, came to power with a landslide victory in 1977. They had no vision for the country. Most of them wanted to be PM and they were ready to pull the rug from under each other’s feet at the slightest opportunity. They did two things horribly wrong. Almost immediately after coming to power, they started a witch hunt against Indira Gandhi as if they had come to power just to harass her, and they played vicious politics against each other.

Although the witch hunt against Indira Gandhi was justified to an extent as she had ruthlessly jailed the entire opposition when she had the opportunity (and hence, almost everybody wanted to see her behind bars), the public was less interested in punishing Indira Gandhi and more interested in improving the day-to-day affairs of their lives.

The actions of the Janata Party leaders were a big turnoff. Nehru had died not a long time ago and she was still, although roguish, the daughter of a figure revered by a generation that was still alive. For the Indian public, her losing power was enough punishment for her and the country just wanted to move on. By continuously obsessing over her, the power-hungry and directionless Janata Party leaders turned her into a Joan of Arc of sorts.

This, coupled with the political machinations cleverly orchestrated by her, saw the Congress party return to power with an even greater number of votes.

Ever since, people think that she rode back to power due to the sympathy wave generated after she was jailed. She wasn’t even jailed for one day – on her way to the prison, she got her vehicle stopped and then she sat by the side of the road in protest, generating sympathy. But that was Indira Gandhi.

But Sonia Gandhi?

The leaders of the current BJP-led NDA government are not clueless. The current government is not a hodgepodge of over-ambitious leaders like Charan Singh, Morarji Desai and Babu Jagjivan Ram, although the current dispensation has scheming politicians from the BJP’s so-called old guard. These politicians have ambition but they cannot match the energy, charisma and vision of Narendra Modi, and they are aware of that. They are somewhat reconciled to the fact that as long as Narendra Modi is a mainstream politician, he is always going to remain the main PM contender.

sonia gandhi

Sonia Gandhi

Narendra Modi doesn’t just enjoy the support of Indian politicians, party workers and millions of ordinary Indians. He has the enviable distinction of also enjoying support from world leaders. People may have their own apprehensions, but on the question of being a capable administrator and a visionary leader, hardly anybody doubts him.

Modi is not known for carrying out witch hunts. In fact, self-declared, agenda-bearing activists who have hounded him for more than a decade are still thriving despite him coming to power.

Journalists who are constantly spouting lies against him are still “eminent” journalists. False opinion pieces, editorials and articles maligning him keep appearing in national and international media without attracting even a tiny rebuke from him.

He continues to be derided, lampooned, ridiculed, and all sort of muck is thrown at him endlessly. Sonia Gandhi herself has called him “maut ka saudagar” and there are many intellectuals, writers and journalists who have called him “the butcher of Gujarat” in public forums without ever attracting his ire.

The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently called Narendra Modi “a coward and a psychopath”. And yet, it is these same people who claim that the conditions in the country are worse than the Emergency days!

In fact, Modi’s problem is not vindictiveness (for which Sonia Gandhi is amply known), but softness. Indeed, it’s not actually softness, Modi is obsessed with doing everything by the book, even pursuing corrupt politicians and officials. This often becomes frustrating for his supporters. Many of his supporters have turned hostile because he is still to take a strict action against the Nehru-Gandhi family that has been running the country like a mafia.

The Congress Party and its cronies are betting on a scenario where a sympathy wave will be generated if Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi are jailed even for a couple of days.

This is why a few days ago, she claimed arrogantly, that she is not afraid because she is Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law. What she wanted to say was, if the cases against her and her family are pursued, she is going to benefit just the way her mother-in-law did. It was a disguised threat.

However, this is not going to happen.

We now live in a highly connected world. In Indira Gandhi’s time, alternative opinions were not allowed to be broadcast. Forget the Internet, there weren’t even multiple TV news channels and radio stations. Some newspapers were comparatively better, but they too were mostly used as propaganda machinery.

As events were unfolding, people didn’t get news in real time the way they get these days on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. What we know of the deeds of Sanjay Gandhi and his goons is due to the literature that was written much later. Many people on the streets were appreciative of the fact that the trains were running on time and there were less crimes.

Sonia Gandhi might be a revered and feared figure among a particular elitist class, but the rest of the country doesn’t care much about her and her family. Almost everybody knows how corrupt and venal the family is. There is an unfortunately high level of tolerance for corrupt political parties in our country – the latest example being the renewed rise of Lalu’s family in Bihar despite him being a convicted criminal. In fact, Lalu’s sudden ascent must have given a moral boost to the Congress party.

My own interactions with multiple left-liberal intellectuals and thinkers have revealed that supporting Sonia Gandhi and her ilk is just a necessary evil to keep the “communal” BJP and its various dispensations in check.

When it comes to choosing between corruption and “communalism”, people choose the so-called lesser evil, corruption. Regrettably, what they don’t know is, corruption kills more people than the so-called communalism, but that’s another topic.

If at all there is a sympathy wave, it won’t manifest as the actual sympathy wave from ordinary Indians, but a small ripple in the murky puddle of dynasty sycophants.

As we have recently observed, whenever something nasty happens in the country, the blame squarely falls on Narendra Modi. Whether it is an attack on activists, on places of worship, on minorities and Dalits and now, even CBI raids on corrupt officials, Modi is the only person to be blamed.

So naturally, even if Sonia Gandhi and her family are rightly punished for their misdeeds, Modi is going to be blamed for running a vendetta against the “poor widow trying to better the lot of the people of a foreign land”.

But it won’t go beyond that. Everybody knows that whatever punishment Sonia Gandhi gets, it will be well-deserved. Whether it is fortunate or unfortunate, public memory is fickle. Even if the mother-son-duo is jailed, in two years, people will forget it and vote according to their current state of mind and political understanding.

In reality, the BJP doesn’t need Sonia Gandhi and her sympathy wave to run itself out of power in 2019. It’s going to be the party’s own doing as it has been observed in Delhi and Bihar. Again, that’s another topic for another day.

Amrit Hallan provides professional content writing services. He generally mind his own business, but when he strongly feels about particular issues, he likes to take on the mantle of a journalist and commentator.
  • Jana krish

    Dear dr.ms…what or who are you…i haven’t seen one well articulated, intelligent article by you…despite your impeccable English and sound knowledge of everything under the sun, moon and 5he Milky way galaxy…i wonder if You are retired and aged official of the Indian IAS or an armchair tambram activist from Tamil Nadu. I’m sick of your rantings… can you please stand up and be counted with concrete positive thought to undo whatever undesirable that has happened in this country…if you cannot, just shut up…I’m really sick of your tirade..

  • Dr. MS

    Frankly I am appalled at the complete lack of attention to facts related to a serious corruption charge that involves crores of Rupees and public land. Even NYT journalist, Hari Kumar who reported on this in NYT as headline news, as of 20/12/2015 12:00 pm Indian time, spent more lines on, what appeared to be, Swamy’s boasting and his connection to BJP. He made it appear as if this case is “some kind of BJP vendetta, personal grudge of some Gandhi opponents or political vindictiveness” exclusively. What is wrong with Indian journalists? Even the ones who report in overseas papers seem to lack objectivity and the ability to read “legal documents”? Can these idiot Indian journalists, who love all the media show without content or substance, and think they are Hollywood stars, read a legal document? Have they seen the affidavits, the evidence and the well documented, organized and pretty damning proof?

    Ms Sonia and Mr Rahul should not take this lightly. US, Italy, England, etc. are not going to bail them out. Those countries are sick of dynasties and oligarchies in their own countries, and their own elites getting away with corruption – even nepotism

    The evidence against Ms Sonia and Mr Rahul are overwhelming. Ms Sonia and Mr Rajul should not smile so much. They could go to jail for more than twenty years, and anyone who supports them out of loyalty and sympathy is an idiot or playing crony politics.

    The case against the Gandhis, irrespective of Swamy, is long time coming, and it is very serious. If you read the criminal allegation there is overwhelming evidence to put these two in jail for years, or completely deny them any political opportunity due to conviction that might later be pardoned.

    Hari Kumar on NYT needs to write a better article, and show more sophistication and legal knowledge of the case. He writes like an undergraduate idiot embarrassing India and the Indian press. Kindly get better people to communicate the charges against Ms Sonia and Mr Rahul around the world. In fact Chinese journalists are doing a better job of keeping to the facts when reporting this case, and most are appalled at what Ms Sonia and Mr Rahul have done to their own people and taxpayers.

    Ms Gandhi and Mr Rahul should not be smiling so much. This is a serious mega corruption case that could land them in jail for the next thirty or twenty years. How they got away with so much corruption I don’t know. And whoever aided them must also go to jail.

    Actually an Italian TV show on justice is probably going to do show on this case, as Sonia is of Italian descent, on how elites get away with corruption all over the world. Good Italians are saying, “Shame on you Sonia for bringing Italians bad name with your corruption like the Italian mafia in the US. Good Italians are ashamed of you! Good honest ethical Italians want bad corrupt Italians like Sonia to go to jail!”

    Stop smiling Sonia and Rahul. You might go to jail for twenty or thirty ears for unbelievable corruption against the ordinary people of India and their public land.

    Indian journalists must look at the legal document and report it to the global public.

  • subodh1945

    rather whole india as well as bharat will celebrate if sonia gandhi goes to jail

  • Cybil Peril

    I have a feeling that the Indian people are waiting for these two – mother-son duo to go to jail and celebrate this victory like Deshehera festival. Sooner the better. True the name congress is synonymous to corruption. Hence congress mukta means corruption mukta India.

  • B K Nautiyal

    In Indira Gandhi’s time Nehru name was revered, corruption was not a main issue, and people were simpler and had much lesser assess to information, particularly the youth. It is just the opposite today, and very unlikely that there will be puplic sympathy. What the country badly needs today is an alternate political party to choose from, and, the NDA led by Modi with a vision has arrived. His party is inexperienced and they are learning and need to be helped. Certainly with all their weaknesses they will not do worse than the previous elitist Govt.

  • P. B. Josh

    Surely not. One great thing which was going in the favor of Indira Gandhi was in the recent past she performed a very heroic role during Bangladesh war. Indian voters thought we needed a strong leader like her. There was no such leader in sight at that time other than her. Sonia has done no such thing and voters are finding a very strong leader in Mr. Modi.

  • Badal

    Very curious aspect of investigations concerning our high profile politicians are that –
    When they are in power they ensure that investigations against them are not allowed or even if it gets initiated due to matters getting in to public domain and due to opposition parties pressure , it always ensures in its own way that such investigations do not make any headway . On the other hand when they are in opposition and not in power and when the stalled investigations are reopened are started afresh then they point to political vendetta and create a ruckus on the entire issue .
    From this are we to assume that , a high profile politician expects to enjoys a permanent amnesty for all graft and criminal charges .

  • Sibby

    The statement of Sonia Gandhi “I am the daughter-in-law of Mrs Indira Gandhi and I am not afraid of anyone” shows her elitist mindset. It is equivalent to rich spoiled boys/girls who are caught by police for drunk driving and then they say “Dont you know who my father is?”

    Regarding disruptions in the parliament, I have seen more discipline in a Kindergarten class of 3-4 year old kids than the MPs in Parliament. The speaker should act like a teacher and ask all MPs to sit on their benches with finger on their lips. May be he can allow a pacifier and a bottle of milk for “young” Rahul Gandhi as he has hard time keeping his mouth shut. If somebody has to ask question or make comment, he/she has to raise hand. If anyone diruspt the parliament or enter the well, he/she should be punished by becoming a “murga” or by standing on the bench, holding their ears. If any MP is missing or has low attendance, he should need a letter from his parents explaining his absence. Only that way our parliament can function properly.

    • Krispy K

      Indians want Parliament to function properly? Forget Parliament, do Indians want India to function properly? Then the Congress Party needs to die, and their allies, friends, slaves and sponsors removed from positions of power. Until and unless this happens, you can forget about it.

      • Savarkar’s Disciple

        If India wants to function properly then we must work towards “SECULARISM MUKT BHARAT”

        • Krispy K

          That will be a natural consequence of eliminating “secular” parties and their drones.

    • P. B. Josh

      No work, no pay should apply to all these disrupting MPs.

  • Krispy K

    “Regrettably, what they don’t know is, corruption kills more people than the so-called communalism, but that’s another topic.”

    Never mind that despite propaganda to the contrary, it is those same corrupt parties that are also primarily responsible for communalism. It has proven to be a useful political tool for them over the decades.

    I’m not sure what the law says, but ANY politician who goes to jail (especially for corruption) should rightly be barred from conducting any kind of politics for life. When the fake Gandhis get their dues, it would seem the right time to put the final nail in the dynasty’s political coffin.

    • nanda

      “When the fake Gandhis get their dues”…. with every passing day, my confidence about this happening any time soon is getting weaker and weaker. don’t know why !!!!

      • Krispy K

        Don’t be misled by the mainstream media’s expected silence on it. In fact, the less they report about the case, and the more they squawk about “vendetta”, the more dangerous it is looking for the Italians.

  • Chakradhar Gopal

    amrit sir, same feelings i have. you have put it in words. gr8 article sir!

  • vamsi krishna

    “Sonia Gandhi be able to ride the sympathy wave, if she is jailed”– with our judiciary she will never be jailed.

    • P. B. Josh

      We can settle with a guilty verdict, even if all her jail time is suspended.