Much ado about Rahul Gandhi’s ash claim
By Annie Banerji
Days after Rahul Gandhi’s dramatic motorcycle pillion ride to twin villages in Uttar Pradesh to quell land acquisition agitations between police and farmers, the Congress general secretary told Indian media that he found a 70-foot pile of ashes with human remains inside.
On questioning the villagers of Bhatta and Parsaul, the Indian Express found that not a single person backed Gandhi’s assertions. The main refrain was that of police beating up villagers and mistreating them.
Gandhi’s claims of unaccounted-for people seemed undermined with the Times of India reporting that the only officially “missing” person was traced to a hospital in New Delhi. Even those who have been staying away fearing police brutality are trickling back to their homes.
Even though Gandhi produced pictures to corroborate his claims, the startled expressions of villagers in reaction to the allegations and the ground reality of the situation hints at a political gimmick from his ruling Congress party in a state where it is trying to strengthen its base with assembly elections looming next year.
Congress had earlier chosen Gandhi, son of party chief Sonia Gandhi, to face the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the state and his focus has since been on Dalits, Muslims and the backward classes.
The current situation suggests early elections in Uttar Pradesh due to poor governance and the volatile condition of the state. The Congress is to set a party agenda for the upcoming assembly elections wherein their prime concern will be on issues related to the common man, plight of farmers, land acquisition and pitiable governance by the BSP.
Rahul Gandhi asserted in a recent press briefing that the principal aim is not of winning in the assembly elections, but to show Uttar Pradesh the path of prosperity.
If the Central Forensic Scientific Laboratory of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation prove Rahul Gandhi’s allegations to be false, it might send those who confide in him back on unstable political ground.