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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

'Priyanka a valuable source of ideas for Rahul'

Varghese K George and Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 03, 2014
First Published: 00:30 IST(3/2/2014) | Last Updated: 09:15 IST(3/2/2014)

The Congress poll strategist Jairam Ramesh has full praises for Rahul Gandhi’s vision and priorities. In an interview to HT, he talks about how the Congress VP is bringing about fundamental changes in the party.

Excerpts:

Rahul Gandhi’s first major TV interview was a flop show.
I do not agree at all. He demonstrated unusual courage and openness as he launched his public communication in the interview. He showed his vision and priorities. Nobody doubts his intentions, sincerity and commitment. He is a long-distance runner in Indian politics. It is easy to run a short sprint, but difficult to be a marathon runner.

Rahul evaded queries. He didn’t talk on the economic situation.
He was not asked any question on economic or larger issues. And frankly, I think he was asked silly questions. Rahul was asked about Subramanian Swami’s allegations on his educational qualification. The issue has been settled long back. Rahul put his views on more involvement and space for the youth in politics and his commitment to transform the party bottoms up.

Congress has already changed its list of seats twice as some sitting MPs have opposed the US-style preliminaries in 15 constituencies to select candidates.
Rahul is trying to bring fundamental changes in the party which can’t be done overnight. He wants the Congress to be more than a an election-machine. He believes in consensus. He is not weak.

One speech of Rahul to hike LPG subsidy burdened the exchequer with Rs. 5,000 crore. Is he a reformist or a populist?
Hiking LPG subsidy was discussed in January 2013 in the party’s Jaipur session. Rahul could not remain silent to the strong sentiment within Congress. He is a believer in economic reforms but wants to protect the weak and the marginalised.

There is a debate over his comments on the 1984 riots.
The 1984 riots were inhuman and unforgivable. It demeaned us as Congressmen and Indians. But I think what Rahul wanted to say is, 1984 was not born out of an ideological hatred as it was in the case of 2002 riots.

Please remember, Indira Gandhi refused to change her Sikh bodyguards in spite of a security warning. In 1984, the then prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) went around the city to pacify people but in Gujarat Narendra Modi didn’t play this role.

Read: Rahul accuses Modi govt of 'abetting' 2002 riots

HT Column: The significant lessons Mr Gandhi must learn

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