The one clear message that emerged from Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with students here on Wednesday was that the jury is still out on the performance of the Narendra Modi government.
Addressing a 2,000-strong gathering of students from the Mount Carmel Women’s College, the Congress vice president asked, “Is Swacch Bharat working?” The girls roared back with a mix of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. He repeated the question but to the same effect. “How about Make in India? Do you think its working?” he asked but once again he got a mixed response.
Some students also shouted that Congress ruled Karnataka is the only place where Make in India and Swacch Bharat are not working.
Watch | Bengaluru students leave Rahul Gandhi red-faced
Indeed, these two questions became the main talking points as the students stood around in groups and excitedly discussed the interaction after Rahul left. As television crews, which were barred from the venue, swooped in to get comments from the students, they shouted over each other to either praise or dismiss the Congress scion.
Among the gaggle of competing voices were those who complained that the entire event was contrived. These students said that Congress organisers had demanded that the questions be submitted to them in advance. “Only the easy questions were approved. No supplementary questions were allowed.,” complained a final year journalism student who did not wish to be identified.
Referring to the latest controversy involving Aamir Khan in his speech, Rahul said that he was alarmed by the aggressive response to the actor’s statement on growing religious intolerance in the country. “The idea of India is live and let live but BJP and RSS mentality is go make one Indian fight against another,” he told the students.
He also said that “Congress is not a corrupt party” and that it is one of the few political organisations that believed in “internal democracy”. Attempting to strike a chord with the girls, he said, “ We are trying to encourage young and educated women to join the Congress. We want to bring in more young people.”
Accusing the PM of “acting like a dictator”, he said that he is not allowing any debate to happen in Parliament and is pushing through with policies without even consulting his own cabinet.
“Modi should realise that he can’t be the lone ruler in a country as large as India. He is not even consulting his own party let alone the opposition. When Manmohan Singh was the PM, he spoke to everyone including the Opposition. Dialogic is the only solution for this country’s problems but Modi doesn’t want to have a dialogue.”
He also criticised the accord signed by the union government with Naga militant groups and asked how such a move could be made without consulting stake holders at the state level.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Rahul said, “We have a number of issues that we want to raise in Parliament. Intolerance that is happening over the last few weeks and the PM’s silence is an issue. Corruption in BJP ruled States is an issue. GST is also an issue,” he said