Rahul Gandhi at the meeting in Delhi. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, Oct. 8: If today’s Physics Nobel honoured the discovery of what ties particles together to form everything from atoms to humans, Rahul Gandhi invoked another concept from physics to emphasise the importance of breaking free.
He cited the principle of “escape velocity” — the speed an object needs to break free of the gravitational pull of a massive body such as a planet — and argued that Dalits too need to work up such a (notional) velocity to break out of the clutches of the caste system.
Perhaps to stress the magnitude of the challenge, the Congress vice-president chose to refer to the escape velocity relating to Jupiter (nearly 60km/sec) rather than the much lower velocity one needs to escape the Earth’s gravity (11.2km/sec).
“The escape velocity of Jupiter is 60km/sec and Dalits need this escape velocity,” Rahul told a public meeting in Delhi today.
“Dalits look at Ambedkarji with pride, because he was the first person who gained escape velocity and went to America. This was the first stage of the Dalit movement — and when he came back, he worked on the Constitution and on reservation with the Congress party.”
Rahul said the second stage of the movement was led by Kanshi Ram, who used the energy of reservation to provide further “escape velocity” to Dalits. The Amethi MP, however, criticised Kanshi Ram’s protégé and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati.
“The most important thing for the movement is building Dalit leadership. Mayawati has captured the leadership and has prevented the emergence of any Dalit leader. The Dalit leadership has come to a standstill,” Rahul said.
“This is the apt time for the Congress party to build a Dalit leadership across the country. We need lakhs of Dalit leaders for the Dalits to progress.”
Rahul, whose entire speech revolved around the poor and caste equality, narrated an incident from grandmother Indira Gandhi’s life to explain why a leader should always stand by the downtrodden.
“One day, I was sitting with my daadi (granny), who told me a story about Germany.”
He said Indira had travelled to Germany during Hitler’s rule and, during the visit, turned up to watch an ice hockey match.
“The German team was performing very well. She told me she felt bad that one team was bashing the other,” Rahul said.
“During the match, the opposite team did make a positive move and she clapped and stood up. The entire stadium started booing her. She said she was scared, but made up her mind that she would stand up to defend the underdog.”
In the same vein, Rahul asserted that the Congress was the party of the poor and took a dig at the BJP.
“The Opposition does not understand the problems of the poor. They don’t speak to the poor; they don’t visit their homes,” he said.
“They said ‘India is shining’ and yet they lost the election. They lost in 2004, they lost in 2009 and they will lose in 2014. I tell them, take the poor along and only then can they win the election.”
His prescription for the Congress regaining ground was simple: social inclusion.
“I want people of all castes, creeds and regions in the Congress party,” he said. “I want each one of them to have a voice in the party. The day we include everybody, the Congress will once again win 360 seats. This will take time, but we have embarked upon this process.”