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Congress leaders free to contest party chief’s post against Rahul Gandhi, says Deepender Hooda

HT spoke to Congress MP Deepender Hooda who accompanied Rahul Gandhi during the US visit, over all the issues that cropped up in this context.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2017 09:41 IST
Hardik Anand
Hardik Anand
Hindustan Times, Rohtak
congress chief,Rahul Gandhi,Deepender Hooda
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda and policy professional Sam Pitroda during their recent visit to the United States.  (HT Photo)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s recent visit to the United States created quite a buzz on the Indian soil. He travelled across coasts, had interactions with think-tanks, and gave strong statements that stirred up controversies back home.

HT spoke to Congress MP Deepender Hooda who accompanied Rahul during this visit, over all the issues that cropped up in this context.

What was the purpose of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the US?

It was an effort by the party to engage with the Indian diaspora. Over the years, our ties with NRIs had weakened, which we attempted to strengthen again.

Which all places did Rahul go to, and who all did he meet?

Rahul ji had interactions with the youth and think-tanks at universities at Berkeley, Indiana and Princeton. He met tech giants in San Franciso, political leaders and policy makers in Washington DC, and the Indian diaspora in New York. He also had informal meetings with editors of New York Times and Reuters.

“If a dairy farmer is lynched for transporting cows, isn’t it tragic for our democracy?”

What do you think is the outcome of the visit?

The outcome has been very positive. Rahul ji thoroughly explained the differences in the ideologies of the BJP and the Congress to the world leaders, policy makers and NRIs. The world should not see India through the prism of one party’s ideology. During his fortnight-long visit, Rahul ji impressed the brightest minds of the world with his speeches, interactions and his idea of how India should be. He is being appreciated everywhere.

BJP said Rahul insulted PM Modi and India on foreign soil. How will you respond to this allegation?

He did not insult anyone, nor did he intend to. He only raised some important challenges that our country is facing today. If a dairy farmer is lynched for transporting cows, isn’t it tragic for our democracy? We have to draw a line somewhere. And before pointing fingers at him, the BJP should look at its own track record. PM Modi went to the Silicon Valley and said India achieved nothing in the past 70 years. By making such a statement, he not only insulted political leaders, but also the people of the country.

Rahul’s statement that India is run by dynasts didn’t go well with many. What’s your take on this issue.

What he said was true. But what we need to understand is that in a democracy like India, dynasts are not a result of special privileges, but public mandate. If Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress, it will be only when Congress leaders choose him as their leader. If he becomes the prime minister, it will be only after the citizens of this country bring the Congress to power and party MPs choose him as their leader. The Congress is a democratic party. Any leader can stand up against Rahul for party president’s post, just like two leaders had contested the post against Sonia ji in 90s. It is up to Congress leaders whom they unanimously elect.

But why do you want Rahul to lead the Congress when he failed miserably in 2014?

One election cannot decide any leader’s mandate. The BJP under Vajpayee ji and Advani ji had once got just two seats. Even in 2014, the BJP managed to win around 30% votes across India when PM Modi’s popularity was claimed to be at its peak. The Congress, under the sincere, honest and intelligent leadership of Rahul Gandhi, will bounce back in 2019 as people have rejected the BJP for its hollow promises.

First Published: Sep 25, 2017 09:41 IST