Those who think that the National Herald case has posed a major threat to the Congress just when it was trying to make a turnaround have got it completely wrong. For a party which will turn 130 in another three weeks and is struggling on all fronts, the Herald issue is certainly going to give it the push it wanted.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and the party's No. 2 Rahul Gandhi and several other leaders and supporters resorted to strong protests against the government after the Delhi High Court dismissed their petition seeking quashing of summons by a lower court.
While Sonia said she is the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi (the latter though had said once that unlike her "statesman" father, she was a "political woman") and not scared of anything, Rahul and other Congress voices called it a "politics of vendetta" and condemned the current regime for "dictatorship".
Congress's protest has its own agenda
These noises undoubtedly have their own audiences to cater to but the Congress's top leadership is certainly eyeing the long-term advantage of the situation and that is to make maximum use of the most effective political currency in India-public sympathy.
Modi will be the last man to target Congress now
It is completely foolish to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the accusations that have been brought against the Gandhis for the former would be last person on earth to flag off a mission at this juncture to corner the top leaders of the Congress, no matter how much he preaches about a "Congress Mukt Bharat".
With the stakes of economic reforms high and the BJP making desperate efforts in reaching out to the Opposition, including the Congress, for the sake of the all-important Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, it will be misplaced to say that the BJP has orchestrated the Herald move.
A sympathy wave will give Rahul Gandhi the push he wants as Congress president
Moreover, with Rahul Gandhi having inched closer to the party president's post, it will be suicidal for the BJP to plan a vendetta against him now. The ruling party's strategy masters must remember that the grand-old party has a big grip on sympathy votes in this country, especially when it comes to the Gandhis.
It was seen in 1980 when Indira came back to power defeating the Janata opposition, in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi won a mammoth majority in the Lok Sabha following his mother's assassination and in 1991 when the party returned to power albeit heading a minority government after the killing of Rajiv.
The BJP will not want a return of those situations, particularly when the factor of ‘intolerance' has left the ambience overcharged. A little strategic slip and the plan of Modi at the helm for a decade could be in great jeopardy.
Rahul's point of view, however, sets an example of double standards. When the UPA was in power, it was the same leader who had made a joke of his party's prime minister Manmohan Singh by calling the government's decision to pass an ordinance to safeguard convicted politicians "non-sense".
Today, he is accusing the opponent party's government as revengeful for a move the judiciary has made on charges of corruption following, as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, the lodging of a private complaint.
The Congress, nevertheless, has full knowledge about the BJP's potential problems and is raising the voice more in the Herald issue.
Sonia Gandhi is taking her mother-in-law's name because she knows it could generate a sympathy wave for her party, particularly after the satisfactory Bihar polls (27 out of 41 seats for a party in doldrums) and ahead of elections in some crucial states where the Congress is in a bad shape.
For Rahul, too, all the failure of the past two or so years could be undone if the Herald case unleashes the sympathy wave just when he is about to take over.
Herald fiasco will hurt Modi more than the Congress
The Herald ruckus, one suspects, has thrown all the hard work that the Modis and Jaitleys were putting in towards reaching a consensus, out of the window now. The onus now lies more on the prime minister in explaining to his constituencies and the outer world how again he has perhaps lost the GST game.
The Herald episode has hit the country's interest more than that of the Congress party.