Tweet More, Rahul: After the outrage Rahul Gandhi’s ‘new India’ tweet sparked, he should call out Modi govt much more

Yoga Day became all about Narendra Modi once again. It took a tweet by Rahul Gandhi to call this out. But Rahul needs to raise his voice on far more serious issues, and far more often.

 |  6-minute read |   29-06-2019
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For a couple of years, there has been endless speculation about who manages Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter handle.

After seeing his New India’ tweet on International Yoga Day recently, it seems to me that it is he himself.

Post-the 2019 verdict — and the mysterious disappearance of Congress social media in-charge Divya Spandana — Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account has become spunkier and somewhat weird, which indicates that it is no longer being managed by a so-called ‘communication expert’, but Rahul Gandhi himself, who is speaking his mind without inhibitions, for better or worse.

Perhaps this drove his recent tweet against the lynching of a Muslim man in Jharkhand as well.

Personally, I don’t mind Rahul Gandhi’s provocative Yoga Day tweet. He merely posted the photo of Army men and Army dogs apparently doing yoga together and called it a glimpse of the ‘New India’. Whether it was meant to be ridicule or admiration is up for interpretation, and how we interpret things to depend upon our own perceptions. So what does the photo convey to my eyes?

To me, the photos represent the bizarre shapes International Yoga Day celebrations in India have taken. Some people are so eager to please PM Modi that they have gone to the extent of claiming that Modi’s efforts to spread the virtues of Yoga have even transcended humanity and engulfed the dog community. Apparently, nobody in the world knew about Yoga before Modi arrived — and now, lo and behold, even dogs have understood its importance. 

This level of worship is deeply problematic, not to mention that dog yoga or ‘doga’, as it is popularly known in America, is far removed from the original tradition of yoga and is just a Westernized and commercialised trend, susceptible to criticism by Yoga puritans. Yoga is an ancient practice meant to improve physical and mental health — dating back to the second century BC in India. While Swami Vivekananda was one of the earliest Indian spiritual leaders to introduce the western world to yoga, the spread of Yoga worldwide cannot be credited to a single person. Following Swamiji, throughout the 20th century, several other spiritual gurus and yoga instructors toured the West and Yoga spread among millions of Americans and Europeans, including celebrities like the Beatles and Madonna, who further popularised it.

Therefore, when Narendra Modi proposed an International Day for Yoga, it was promptly accepted by the United Nations not because they heard about the wonders of Yoga from Mr Modi for the first time, but because it was already a revered practice worldwide. Marking a day, to my mind, was only formal recognition of an existing trend — not the invention of it.

Yet, in India, International Yoga Day seems to be less about Yoga and more about Narendra Modi. Yoga Day posters put up all over the place by the government have only one face on them — that of Modi. Videos showing an animated version of Modi doing various yoga positions were released by Modi’s social media channels as a run-up to Yoga Day, none of which makes any logical sense because Modi neither invented Yoga, nor does he seem to be the greatest Yoga practitioner in the world.

This strange merger of Modi and Yoga as one and the same thing seems to be a forced attempt to manufacture a legacy by the government for PM Modi.

modiyoga690_062519065656.jpgStrike a Pose: Popularizing International Yoga Day helps buoy Narendra Modi’s legacy. (Source: India Today)

All this though even when the worth of human lives diminishes every day, as over 150 children die of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) within just weeks in Muzaffarpur without any proper treatment, as sanitation workers die of suffocation while cleaning septic tanks, as Dalits are beaten brutally by upper caste groups, and as mob lynching of Muslims continues unabated, with reports of a Muslim couple beaten and forced to chant Hindu religious slogans, a Muslim man beaten and his skull cap pulled in Gurugram, a Muslim killed in Jharkhand, all coming within just weeks of the second term of the Modi government.

India’s politics is being infested with post-truth messaging and imagery, where a cult leader is mesmerising the whole nation with demagoguery — and Rahul Gandhi only rightly called it out. Did he not know there will be massive outrage? Perhaps he did but clearly, he doesn’t care — and more power to him for his new and spunkier ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t exhibit the same spunk on more pressing issues — and therein lies my disappointment.

He stayed silent on the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand for too long and only tweeted after repeated questioning of his silence by thought leaders across the board. But he is still silent on several other issues on which he should have asked tough questions of the government and played the role of a responsible Opposition leader.

main_rahul-gandhi_sa_062919113025.jpgIs there, in fact, some method to his moves? (Photo: PTI)

A month since the verdict, Rahul Gandhi has decided to step down from the party’s leadership, refuses to stick around despite repeated requests from party members and supporters, and even refuses to select the next Congress President. It seems he is generally in an apathetic heartbroken ‘let it go’ mood. Yet, he still weirdly picked on the Indian Army’s affection for their dog squad.

On the face of it, there is not much explanation behind this particular move, but one hopes he has some reason in his chaos.

Would his reason show some light to the party? We wait to see. 

Also Read: Truly International Yoga Day: Why, at 100 years, the world’s oldest yoga teacher carries on asanas in the USA

 

Writer

Sanjukta Basu Sanjukta Basu @sanjukta

Freelance writer, photographer and women studies scholar, and a part of the Karwan E Mohabbat group. She writes on social marginalisation, minority rights and women issues.

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