Technically, Rahul Gandhi played no part in the unsuccessful legal action seeking a Supreme Court authorised probe into the contents of documents seized by the Income-Tax authorities from two business houses. However, having tried to ride piggy back on the controversy in the hope of political dividends, the vice-president of the Congress party has no alternative to facing the flak resulting from the judicial rejection of the demand from the NGO-activist Common Cause. Having threatened an “earthquake” and launching a fiery attack on Mr Narendra Modi, that included accusing him of personal corruption, the “future” of the oldest political party in the country must look back in sorrow at having made a bit of a fool of himself. Significantly, no senior Congress leader had joined Rahul’s tirade, obviously aware that he was on flimsy, stale ground: because even before the conclusive verdict on Wednesday the apex court had indicated it was not very impressed by the basis upon which the demand for a probe was being made. Try as they might now, the Rahul-backers cannot shake off the embarrassment that has befallen them. There had been no formal statement from the party after the verdict pronounced by their Lordships Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, but the discomfort in 24 Akbar Road was evident when a Congress loudmouth tried to duck the issue by stating on TV that by the same token the BJP must stop talking of corruption in the Bofors deal. Shamelessness is part of a politician’s DNA, so Rahul cannot be expected to admit to having blundered: he would be well advised to focus his anti-Modi assault on demonetisation, for which he has the solid backing of experienced stalwarts like Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram. Rahul must learn to retain a focus in his political battle-plan ~ he is no Muhammad Ali who could “flit like a butterfly, sting like a bee”.
The more significant “operative part” of the Supreme Court verdict is that it slams the increasing tendency to make unsubstantiated allegations, and then insist that the “target” is duty-bound to “clear” himself. There is a degree of relevance to the claim of petitioner Prashant Bushan that the Prime Minister, and others in high authority, must not be accorded a protective shield unavailable to all. Yet the solution to that is for the “PIL-fraternity” to be more selective in their “attacks” ~ the court has put the petition under focus through the paper-shredder. Clearly a slur on the reputation of Common Cause, that has earned a name for itself challenging “big” government. Back to politics, Rahul should recall his father having once said there was no requirement for him “to respond to every dog that barks”.