An open letter to Sonia Gandhi: How you could have handled the GST protest differently

Dear Ms Gandhi,

I feel that you have botched up badly tonight. If you really wanted to register your protest, you could have handled the GST event differently, very differently.

Let me tell you how.

If I had been in your place, I would have tried to play an active role during the launch event. I would have tried to persuade the government to allow Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda to say a few words at the function. The government may not have agreed initially but I think that they would have finally acquiesced. I would have told the government that since this is a big day for the country they should at least let the two of them speak not as representatives of any political party but as former PMs. I would have assured the government that if they allowed this, the entire opposition would be present at the function.

And then I would have organised for Manmohan Singh to deliver a powerful speech. In which I would have had him take credit for GST without sounding churlish. In the speech, I would have had him talk about the flaws. I would have put forth the Congress and the opposition view point. I would have used the opportunity to caution the people in Central Hall and elsewhere in the country watching the proceedings about the problems as the Congress party sees it.

In so doing, you would have stolen some of the PM’s thunder.

If the ruling party had not agreed to let Manmohan Singh speak, you could have pointed to the hypocrisy of a government which talks of cooperative federal ism but will not work with the opposition. And then you could have had Manmohan Singh deliver the same speech from the Congress Party HQ immediately after the ceremony in Central Hall. Several channels would have carried it live. It would have caught the imagination of the people.

But you did not. You squandered a big opportunity to get your message across. Instead what I heard was your spokesman on some channel asking about Panama papers. On another channel, the comments of your spokesman was equally inane.

You really botched it up.

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