New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that he is ready to take charge of his party in 2019 even as he attacked the BJP government for its decision to demonetise the old currency notes and rising cross-border terrorism. He made these remarks during an interaction with the students of the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, United States.
The theme of the event was 'India@70: Reflections on the Path Forward' during which he shared his ideas about the need to rebuild the Congress in view of future challenges facing the party.
The Congress no 2 also attempted to deflect criticism on dynastic politics, saying this is the problem with most political parties in India and that's how things work.
“Most of the country runs like this. 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, so don’t go just after me,” Rahul said at the event.
Stressing on the need to rebuild the party, the Gandhi scion also admitted that his 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 arrogance crept into the Congress and they stopped having conversations with the people,” he admitted.
More importantly, the young Congress leader said that he was ready to take charge of the party in 2019 when the next Lok Sabha elections will be held. He also indicated that he is "absolutely ready" to be the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 General Elections.
However, he added that changes in his party will be made through a democratic process of elections.
The Congress leader also recalled the assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi and said ''who better than me understands the menace of terrorism.''
“I lost my grandmother and father to violence. If I don’t understand violence, who will? The idea of non-violence is under attack today, yet it is the only idea which can take humanity forward,” he said.
“Hatred, anger and violence can destroy us. The politics of polarisation is very dangerous,” he said.
In a sharp attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi alleged that "politics of divide and polarisation is radicalising and isolating people in India."
Gandhi also came down heavily on the BJP regime at the Centre over what he called the ''faulty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the demonetisation decision which led to a sharp decline in economic growth.
Rahul Gandhi said that the notes ban move has caused damage to agriculture and deep distress among farmers.
He opined that the decision to demonetise the old currency notes was taken without consulting either the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) or the Parliament, resulting in severe damage across various sectors.
The Congress leader also highlighted the fact that the notes ban move has done no good to the nation as millions of jobs were lost.
Taking on the BJP and the Narendra Modi government, Rahul said the Prime Minister had clamped down on RTI Act which was much more transparent during Congress rule.
While reacting to the current situation in J&K, Rahul Gandhi blamed the BJP government for rising cross-border terrorism in J&K and the deteriorating situation there.
''When we started, terrorism was rampant in Kashmir, when we finished there was peace, we had broken the back of terrorism by 2013, but the BJP-PDP alliance destroyed the good work done by the UPA governments in just 30 days,'' he said.
Rahul Gandhi also blamed the PM and his party for running a false campaign against him. ''The man who is running the government was spearheading an operation to spread rumours about me being a reluctant politician,'' he said.
However, in a rare praise for PM Narendra 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. But he does not converse with the people he works with,” he said.
Talking of the current political set-up in India, Rahul said that political reform is much more important than administrative.
Advocating that power should be given back to the MPs, Rahul saID, “Today, there is no power in Parliament. Power is outside the House and with the PMO and ministers. We need to give this power back to the lawmakers.”
Reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s speech, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said it was the Congress leader’s “frustration” speaking.
Sambit Patra called him "deplorable" for "slamming his own country" while abroad.
Astonishing that Congress VP, Rahul Gandhi goes to US and slams his own Country,India ..It's frustration of Rahul speaking..Deplorable!
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) September 12, 2017
The Congress leader is on a two-week visit to the US. Gandhi will interact with global thinkers and political leaders, and address overseas Indians as part of an outreach initiative by his party during his US visit. Rahul Gandhi's grandfather and the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had earlier delivered a historic speech at the American university in 1949.