Rahul’s US speeches connect with the masses, go with his new avatar: Congress leaders | india news | Hindustan Times
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Rahul’s US speeches connect with the masses, go with his new avatar: Congress leaders

A few other leaders also claimed that the Congress will benefit from Gandhi’s “new avatar” as the non-resident Gujaratis have the ability to influence a large section of voters back home.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2017 07:30 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi delivers a speech at the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California, on Monday.
Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi delivers a speech at the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California, on Monday. (PTI)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s speeches in the United States appear to have struck a chord with his party colleagues and political observers, who said the leader managed to correct the perception most people had of him.

Congress leaders believed that Gandhi made an honest bid to reconnect with the aspirational youth who had moved away from the grand old party since the launch of the anti-corruption movement by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal in 2011.

“I got calls from many youngsters from India and also from US and Canada. They were highly impressed with his speeches,” Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Brar told HT. “Rahulji was able to correct the image that our opponents had created about him.”

Brar, who had been campaigning in Gujarat during the past few days, claimed that he could feel the impact of Gandhi’s candid remarks in the poll-bound state. “A large number of Gujaratis are settled in US and UK. I saw a lot of people discussing his speeches in Gujarat and talk positively about him,” he said.

Congress leader from Gujarat Arjun Modhwadia agreed. “His connect with the non-resident Gujarati community will definitely have a positive impact in the state. In fact, his conclave in Ahmedabad had already set the tone which got strengthened by his speeches in US,” he said.

A few other leaders also claimed that the Congress will benefit from Gandhi’s “new avatar” as the non-resident Gujaratis have the ability to influence a large section of voters back home. “We will also gain financially since a majority of NRIs till now are big fund raisers for BJP. But they will now be forced to think about the Congress and see Rahul Gandhi as an alternative to PM Modi,” said a Congress leader .

Gandhi’s admission of shortcomings within his party has also been well received by political observers who said after many years the Congress had been able to set an agenda for BJP and others to respond to.

“Initially, I was critical of his visit. On one side, we have a party which is thinking only about winning the elections and on the other there is another party which is in shambles and its leader is giving lectures in US and not campaigning in Gujarat. But now I have different views,” said Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

“For past many years, the BJP has been setting the agenda and the Congress responds. But for this first time, the Congress has been able to set an agenda and we see the BJP responding,” he said.

Kumar said “honest confessions” by Gandhi in his speeches — whether about dynasty or his remark that arrogance had crept into the party in 2012 — were well received given that politicians till now had been avoiding such questions. “Making a confession from a public platform is something new and courageous. In that respect, he has been successful in setting an agenda,” he said.