On a two-week trip to the US, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice President, in his address at the University of California, Berkeley, said that dynastic politics is a reality and that is how most of the country is run. ‘That’s how India works. Dynastic politics is a problem in all political parties; Akhilesh (Yadav), (MK) Stalin and even (actor) Abhishek Bachchan are dynasts. Even (Prem Kumar) Dhumal’s son (Anurag Thakur) is a dynast,’ he pointed out. ‘So don’t go just after me.’
Rahul Gandhi is expected to meet US politicians with whom he will discuss policy and bilateral issues in the coming days.
Talking on the subject, ‘India at 70 - Reflections on the Path Forward’ he sought to deflect criticism on dynastic politics but conceded that his Congress party may have become susceptible to ‘arrogance’ in 2012, two years before it lost power at the Centre to the BJP. ‘Around 2012, a certain sort of arrogance crept into the Congress and they stopped having conversations with the people,’ he said.
More important, he said he was ready to take charge of the party in 2019 when the next Lok Sabha elections will be held.
He recalled the tragic assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi, and said no one understands violence better than him. ‘I lost my grandmother and father to violence. If I don’t understand violence who will?’
He pointed out that ‘the idea of non-violence is under attack today, yet it is the only idea which can take humanity forward. Hatred, anger and violence can destroy us. The politics of polarization is very dangerous.’
Taking on the BJP and the Narendra Modi government, Rahul Gandhi said the Prime Minister had clamped down on Right to Information Act which was much more transparent during the Congress rule.
Speaking about the other contentious issue, demonetization, the Congress vice-president lashed out at the Modi government saying the decision was taken without consulting either the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) or Parliament, and this has resulted in severe damage across sectors. He pointed out the fact that the decision has done no good to the nation; millions of jobs were lost.
In a word of rare praise for Modi, Rahul called him a ‘good communicator’. ‘He is my Prime Minister too. He is a very good communicator. His messaging ability is very subtle and effective. However, he does not converse with the people he works with.’
Talking of the current political set-up in the country, he said power should be given back to the MPs. ‘Today, there is no power in Parliament. Power is outside the House and with the PMO and the ministers. We need to give this power back to the lawmakers.’
Reacting to the speech,BJP’s spokesperson, SambitPatra, said it showed the Congress leader’s ‘frustration.’