California: Contrary to what we know about the nature of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice President, for the first time ever in his political journey till today, praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In what could be called as a self-introspection, Gandhi also accepted that the Congress lost confidence of people because of the arrogant attitude that had enveloped the party few years back.
Speaking about the skills of PM Modi, the Congress VP called him a very good communicator. “Mr. Modi has certain skills; he is a very good communicator, much better than me,” said Rahul Gandhi.
“He knows how to give a message to 3-4 different groups in a crowd, so his messaging ability is very effective and subtle,” he further said.
It was, however, an attack on the Prime Minister from Gandhi in a polite gesture, indicating that the Modi has made people follow him not because of his works but from his luring speeches.
Gandhi also attacked the PM alleging that the latter is busy giving public speeches but never interacts with his own men. “What I sense is he doesn’t converse with people he works with, even members of Parliament and BJP tell me that,” said Gandhi.
Accusing Modi for opening the space for terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress leader said: “When we started, terrorism was rampant in Kashmir. And when we finished by 2013, we basically broke the back of terror, I hugged (then) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and told him it was one of the biggest achievements.”
“So he (Modi) massively opened up space for the terrorists in Kashmir, and you saw the increase in violence,” he added.
Rahul on Congress:
Rahul also talked about the reason that led to the fall of Congress in the country. Stating arrogance as the sole reason for the party’s downfall, Gandhi said, “around 2012, arrogance crept into Congress party and we stopped having conversations with people. It went against us.”
He also referred to the role of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which is in power with the BJP as its alliance partner in the state, and said, “PDP was instrumental in bringing youngsters in politics, but the day Modi made alliance with PDP, he destroyed them (PDP).”
For rebuilding the party, we need to design a vision that we can use moving forward. Most of what the BJP is doing, is what we once said,” Gandhi said citing the examples of UPA government schemes MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme) and GST.
“The core architecture of the BJP-schemes are ours (Congress’),” he said.
Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for the incidents of mob lynching and cow vigilantism that unleashed violence, Gandhi said, “I understand what violence does, violence against anybody is wrong.”
He was addressing the University of California, Berkeley, at 0700 hours (IST) on Tuesday. Rahul spoke on ‘India at 70’ and reflected on contemporary India and the path forward for the world’s largest democracy.
It is to be mentioned that the first PM of the country and Rahul’s grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, had delivered a historic speech at the American university in 1949.
Rahul is on a two-week visit to the United States to interact with the global thinkers.
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Other topics that Gandhi took up:
- Idea of non-violence is under attack today, yet it is only idea which can take humanity forward.
- Hatred,anger and violence can destroy us, the politics of polarization is very dangerous.
- I lost my father,my grandmother to violence, if I don’t understand violence then who will?
- I am with everyone in their quest for justice, violence again anybody I strongly condemn.
- Idea of non violence or ahimsa is what has allowed this mass of people in India to rise together.
Demonetisation and GST:
- Decisions like demonetisation which removed 86 per cent of cash from circulation were done unilaterally, without asking the Chief Economic Advisor or the Cabinet or even Parliament, it (demonetisation) caused tremendous damage
- Government’s economic policy of demonetisation and the hastily implemented GST has caused tremendous pressure on the economy.
- Government’s decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has led to decline in economic growth. It cost us two per cent loss in GDP (gross domestic product).
Employment creation in India:
- Unlike China, India has to create jobs in a democratic environment.
- Small and medium entrepreneurs are the bedrock of India’s economic progress
- Core constituency of right wing leaders are those who cannot get a job.
- Most of the country runs like this. That’s how India works.
- Dynastic politics is a problem in all political parties.
- Akhilesh (Yadav son of Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party), (M.K.) Stalin (son of M. Karunanidhi in DMK), Abhishek Bachchan (son of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan) — are all examples of dynastic legacy, also (Mukesh and Anil) Ambani (son of Dhirubhai Ambani), that’s how the entire country is running.
- Even (Prem Kumar) Dhumal’s son (Anurag Thakur) is a dynast, so don’t go just after me.
Will he take up executive role in the party:
- I am absolutely ready for that, but our party works acc to organizational elections.
- Congress decides policy and vision through conversations and not by imposition
- There is no democratic country in history which has raised so many people out of poverty as India.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who was present in the audience during Gandhi’s speech tweeted: “A speech marked by acuity and passion, and a discussion infused with candour and insight.”