Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday indicated that the Congress strategy for the Lok Sabha polls will be woven around four themes — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “failure” to deliver, a welfare state, the unsuitability of the RSS vision and crony capitalism.
Arguing that Modi’s failures and crony capitalism were interlinked, the Congress chief brought up the Rafale deal at the Yuva Kranti Rally organised by the Youth Congress: “The truth will come out clearly in front of the country, clear cut, doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani, that the Prime Minister bypassed the entire governmental structure for (industrialist) Anil Ambani.”
Rahul added: “Modi is trying to hide the truth; he is trying to placate Parrikar (former defence minister Manohar Parrikar), silence the CBI. But voices are coming out from everywhere — from the bureaucracy, from the air force.”
Making it clear that the Rafale fighter jet deal would be projected by the Congress to target Modi’s personal image and that it would be cited as an example of crony capitalism, Rahul offered a rare public explanation to the corporate world.
“I want to tell the industrialists that we are not against you. We oppose crony capitalism. We are opposed to Modi’s style of giving money without merit to a select few, like Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi….. We will create space for everybody,” the Congress chief said.
Rahul announced that two or three major policy initiatives would find place in the Congress manifesto in addition to the guaranteed minimum income he had already promised.
“Modi has no original idea. We brought the green and white revolutions. We liberalised the economy. We introduced a paradigm shift with rights-based legislation. Now this historic step of guaranteed income for the poor. This is only the first step, two or three more will follow,” he said.
The Congress under Sonia Gandhi had wrested power from a well-entrenched Atal Bihari Vajpayee government by deepening the concept of welfare state in the run-up to the 2004 elections.
While she had promised revolutionary measures such as the rural job guarantee scheme MNREGA and the Food Security Act, Sonia had altered the discourse on economic reforms by stressing on the “humane face” of policy initiatives and the role of the public sector in fields such as education and health care.
These messages were reflected in the slogan — “Aam aadmi ko kya mila? (What did the common man get)” — that had been juxtaposed against the BJP’s “India Shining” catchphrase.
Explaining why he thought the RSS could not come up with any new idea since its inception, Rahul said: “The country is not about a mediocre idea in the brain of (outfit chief) Mohan Bhagwat. For the Congress, it is about the voice of 1.3 billion people. If one group is not there in the bouquet, we are upset. We are not the voice of one organisation, we are the country’s voice. The RSS thinks it is the only source of knowledge, our vision is the expression of the entire country.”
Rahul conceded that the Congress had been punished in 2014 because the people thought it had become arrogant.
“The RSS used power to capture institutions. We are not here to assault institutions; all of you should learn to live with institutions, respect every single institution,” he told the Youth Congress workers.
Rahul accused the Modi government of playing divisive politics. “They created divisions in Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast, Kerala, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.”
The Yuva Kranti Yatra started on December 16 from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and reached Delhi on Wednesday after mass contact programmes, meetings and rallies in 26 states.
Youth Congress president Keshav Chand Yadav said the outfit tried to create awareness among the people, particularly the youth, about burning issues and the “false promises” made by Modi.
The discourse revolved around five issues: the failure to create the promised 2 crore jobs every year, acute agrarian distress, atrocities on Dalits, minorities and women, cut in budgetary allocations on education and the inability to clean the Ganga.
Yadav claimed that the Prime Minister didn’t deliver because he was obsessed with crony capitalism and that “scams” like the Rafale deal had exposed his true intentions.
The Youth Congress displayed visuals, on trucks that accompanied the yatra, to spread awareness about the Rafale deal, farmer suicides and unemployment.
The “Rafale truck” was attacked in Odisha but it was quickly reconstructed, Yadav said.
At the concluding meeting on Wednesday at the Talkatora Stadium, Youth Congress members stood in a queue with their bodies painted with the message in capital letters: “Chowkidar chor hai.” The reference was to Modi, who claims to be the custodian of the country’s resources.