Amid dipping approval ratings, Congress scion Rahul Gandhi has set out to compete against the tallest leader in the opposition at the moment i.e. Mamata Banerjee. With the standoff in the Parliament in the ongoing Monsoon session, floor leaders of opposition parties in the Lok Sabha, gathered together in a room on Wednesday (July 28) to strategize about cornering the government on the bogus Pegasus spyware scandal.
Besides Rahul Gandhi, the meeting was attended by DMK’s TR Baalu and Kanimozhi, the NCP’s Supriya Sule, the Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant, the Kerala Congress (M)’s Thomas Chazhikadan, the National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi, the RSP’s N K Premachandran, the Muslim League’s ET Mohd Basheer and the CPM’s S Venkatesan and AM Ariff.
With West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee in Delhi as well, it was peculiar that she wasn’t invited to the meet. It is understandable that Rahul considers Mamata as his adversary, coming for the opposition leader crown, ever since she received the mandate for a third straight term in the state.
The opposition had informally rallied behind Rahul Gandhi in the previous two general elections but the results were downright abysmal, if not anything, for every single party that was swept over by the tidal Modi wave. Thus, the weary eyes of the opposition leaders and left-liberal establishment, ever since then have been searching for a messiah who can defeat Narendra Modi. And now they have pinned their gaze on Mamata.
Despite the malice in her tactics and the stark polarization tricks she conjured up in West Bengal, Mamata has the bragging rights of claiming to have the stick over PM Modi. If a third front is to coalesce in the future, it needs a strong leader to lead it. And Rahul Gandhi’s name can certainly be ruled out if such discussion comes to the fore. The Congress party prince inadvertently understands this and hence has been looking to push Mamata away from New Delhi.
The urge to revive the Pegasus story by Rahul comes a day after he drove a tractor to the Parliament to protest against the three farm laws with Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, Youth Congress chief BV Srinivas and a number of party leaders.
Rahul Gandhi quickly sacrificed the farmers’ issue for the Pegasus scandal because Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal set up a committee to probe Pegasus snooping row. She became the first state leader to do so and Rahul Gandhi gauged that she was attempting to steal his thunder.
The jumping from one topic to another without taking any single controversy to fruition has been Rahul’s Achilles heel. While Mamata focuses on one topic to take the fight to the centre, a muddled Rahul Gandhi has dipped his hands in several other pies. By not inviting TMC leaders to the meet, Rahul has indicated that he is doing everything in his capability to stop Mamata from becoming the Opposition face for 2024.