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Has Congress fallen into ‘Rajiv Gandhi trap’ of PM Modi


New Delhi, May 07: It seems that the Congress has fallen into the trap of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by accepting his challenge to fight remaining two phases of the Lok Sabha elections in the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, whose name had figured in the infamous Bofors scandal.

Addressing a rally in Jharkhand on Monday, Prime Minister Modi dared the Congress to a debate on the Bofors scandal and other issues.

Has Congress fallen into ‘Rajiv Gandhi trap’ of PM Modi

"How a family looted the country in the 20th century, destroyed it - the youth of the country should know. I am challenging the Congress from this dais that when polling takes place in the remaining phases in Punjab, Delhi, and Bhopal, let it fight the elections in the name of Rajiv Gandhi. I am hopeful that the Congress will accept this challenge," he said.

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The Prime Minister had earlier said that Rajiv Gandhi ended his life as "Bhrashtachari No 1" (Corrupt No. 1). The comment invited sharp criticism from the opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

According to the sources, Congress high command has decided to accept Modi 's challenge and started projecting it as an insult to the former prime minister.

The party high command has given directions to the state units and candidates where elections are due to aggressively defend Rajiv Gandhi and target Prime Minister Modi over Rafale deal, says an insider.

"The candidates have been told to highlight a fact in their campaigning that Prime Minister Modi has insulted Rajiv Gandhi despite he was given a clean chit by the court in the Bofors scandal. The directions are that the Congress must avenge the insult, " says a source.

"It has also been decided that the Congress spokesperson will highlight Rajiv Gandhi issue in their press conferences that they would be addressing till May 16 in those states where the elections are due, " adds the insider.

The Congress has filed a complaint with the Election Commission in this regard as it is eyeing to make it an emotional issue.

According to the sources, senior Congress leaders of Sonia Gandhi camp have told Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi that the party must counter Prime Minister Modi over Rajiv Gandhi.

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The Congress leaders believe that Prime Minister Modi has given them an issue that can benefit the party.

However, political analysts say that Prime Minister Modi knows it very well that discussion about Bofors scandal at this juncture will actually hurt the Congress and that is why he laid the trap.

A political analyst tells OneIndia that is why Prime Minister Modi deliberately put Congress in a catch-22 situation over Rajiv Gandhi.

"Rajiv Gandhi lost 1989 elections over the Bofors scandal and was named in the chargesheet that was filed in 1999. Though he has been given a clean chit, but even former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom, who investigated the case, said that Rajiv Gandhi was guilty of knowing about the kickbacks and not taking action on them. Therefore, the more Bofors scandal is discussed the more it will hurt the Congress, and that is exactly what Prime Minister Modi wants," says the analyst.

He is of the opinion that Congress' plan of drawing a comparison between the Bofors scandal and Rafale deal is unlikely to help the grand-old party.

"While it is a fact that bribes were paid in the Bofors deal, there is no such evidence in the Rafale deal. Moreover, Congress started terming Prime Minister Modi as a chor (thief) without going into the literal meaning of the word. If one goes by the Congress' charge that Modi helped Anil Ambani in securing the deal then also he can't be termed as a thief. If Congress ' charge is proved in the future then also Modi won't be called a chor but the one who favoured an industrialist, " says the analyst.

Should Congress accept Modi's challenge to fight last two phases in the name of Rajiv Gandhi?

Voting for the 16 seats of Madhya Pradesh, 13 of Punjab, 10 of Haryana, 07 of Delhi, 04 of Himachal Pradesh, 27 of Uttar Pradesh, 17 of West Bengal, 16 of Bihar, 07 of Jharkhand, and 01 of Chandigarh is due in the sixth and seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections.

Out of these, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab are the Congress-ruled states where the party has pinned hopes of winning maximum seats. However, Congress is in doldrums in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

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