Party colleagues told me I shouldn’t have hugged PM Modi: Rahul Gandhi
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Party colleagues told me I shouldn’t have hugged PM Modi: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that playing a balancing role between the US and China should be one of India’s key foreign policy goals, while criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not protecting vulnerable sections and refusing to accept problems in job creation.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2018 11:27 IST
HT Correspondent
United States,China,India
At the Bucerius Summer School in the German city of Hamburg, Rahul Gandhi spoke and took questions about a range of domestic issues and gave a wider view of his foreign policy perspective.(PTI)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that playing a balancing role between the US and China should be one of India’s key foreign policy goals, while criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not protecting vulnerable sections and refusing to accept problems in job creation.

At the Bucerius Summer School in the German city of Hamburg, Gandhi spoke and took questions about a range of domestic issues — both economic and social — and gave a wider view of his foreign policy perspective that may find resonance in the political dialogues ahead of the 2019 general election.

“India has a deep relation with the US. But India can’t ignore the fact that China is growing extremely fast and we need to balance our position. I think certain values India brings to the table. So, India and Europe’s role would be to balance the narrative,” he said.

“We are closer to the US than we are to the Chinese. One of our leaders was asked, Do you lean left or right? She replied, ‘No we stand straight’. I think this is pretty much our stand too,” he added.

Switching to domestic issues, Gandhi said that some people were being left out of India’s growth story.

“The idea was that India should transform for all with the support of the government. Pretty much all governments followed this principle until the last one (Modi government). They don’t feel every people should have access to benefits. Dalits, minorities should not get the benefits that rich people get,” he said.

He alleged that the right to food and right to guaranteed work have been weakened by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime. “The PM demonetised currencies and destroyed cash flow for small and medium industries,” he said, and added, “my main problem with the Indian PM is that India has a job problem but our PM refuses to acknowledge it.”

Giving an example of the isolation of Tikriti community – seen as the genesis of the Islamic State -- after the second Gulf War, he said that it was important to reach out to people. If you don’t “embrace” them, he said, someone else might, and they may not have the right vision.

“Hate is a choice. So, in Congress we try to carry as many as them in this possible transition. There is a lot of hatred in world but not enough listening,” Gandhi said.

He also said that some people in his party didn’t like his act of hugging the PM and quipped that now Opposition leaders are sceptical about him. “The basic idea is that if someone hates you, responding their hate with hate is foolish as it won’t solve any problem,” Gandhi said. “Some of my party colleagues told me you should not have hugged him. But I disagreed,” he said amid applause.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised Gandhi and suggested that he had crossed the line by bringing up IS in the Indian context.

“Horrified to hear Congress President RahulG justifying the formation of ISIS in Syria ..and giving out a veiled threat that if Modiji doesn’t “give vision” to India then soon someone else (read ISIS) would give the vision..Unbelievable ..He’s a PM aspirant??” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted.

Gandhi will hold another public meeting in Berlin on Thursday, before travelling to the UK

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 01:52 IST