Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the Opposition parties have clearly understood that the battle for saving the soul of India requires a different level of cooperation and flexibility, and dismissed the possibility of an implosion in the alliance.
Asked about the complexities in some states, particularly with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Rahul said: “The Opposition is thinking about this election (2024) in a fundamentally different way than it thought about any other election in the past. The Opposition is united in the idea that India is under attack. The concept of India, free election, free speech is under mortal threat.”
He added: “This is unanimous. Which means our behaviour has to change, our flexibility has to increase. We are fighting for the soul of India which requires a different level of cooperation. I am impressed with the flexibility all the parties are showing. We all understand what is at stake; we are not fighting a political party, we are fighting the Indian State.”
The Congress MP was answering questions at a conclave organised by the Assam-based media group Pratidin. He said: “We have banded together very well. I never saw the Opposition working like that. The second point is that if you actually look at the alliances, the bulk of them are pretty much stitched up. There are no problems in big states. There are issues in smaller places but we are dealing with each other, seeing each other, like defending the idea of India which the RSS-BJP is trying to destroy.”
Referring to hurdles, primarily in terms of funds and the BJP’s control of the media, Rahul said: “The BJP has basically created a friendly monopolist. The government has handed over key industries to this gentleman, Adani. He also controls a significant chunk of the media. There are other monopolies but he is the main, with massive concentration of wealth. The BJP is generating huge amounts of money from this. So, there is financial control and media control.”
Rahul then appeared to allege coercion by the Narendra Modi government, saying: “Ask any businessman in India what happens to them if they support an Opposition party, if they write a cheque for any Opposition party.”
On the political front, he said the Congress had learnt critical lessons from the Karnataka elections in how to counter the BJP’s diversionary ploys.
Alleging that the BJP wins elections by distracting and not allowing the Congress to construct its own narrative, Rahul said: “In Karnataka, we fought the election in a way that the BJP could not succeed in distraction. We gave a clear vision for the state, a social security programme and then we controlled the narrative. What you are seeing — the gentleman Bidhuri, Nishikant Dubey… this is all BJP trying to distract from the idea of a caste census. Every time we bring a point on the table, they use this type of stuff to distract. We have learnt now how to deal with this.”
Rahul exuded confidence about winning the next round of Assembly elections scheduled for November-December. “Right now, we are winning Telangana. We are controlling the narrative through our welfare programmes. The BJP is decimated there… gone. We are certainly winning Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Rajasthan is very close but we think we will be able to win. That’s what the BJP is also saying internally.”
Asked about Manipur, he said he had never seen anything like that in his life as the BJP’s politics had destroyed the state. Explaining the extent of the rift between Kukis and Meiteis, he said: “The Government of India has no control. Paramilitary personnel of one community can’t go to areas dominated by another community.” He also ruled out any alliance with the AIUDF in Assam.
Rahul did not rule out another Bharat Jodo Yatra, saying “this was a work in progress” and he didn’t want to kill the surprise by talking about it. He, however, said the Kanyakumari to Kashmir walk helped him see India from a different perspective and framework and he was keen on a similar experience walking from east to west.
“Mazaa aata hai (It’s fun)” he said, adding, “People are so loving, lots of affection. The experience is not possible if you go by car or flight. It’s different because of the suffering involved.”