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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Rahul Gandhi ready to be party chief, says Congress lost touch with people in run-up to 2014 elections

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, speaking in Calfornia’s UC Berkeley, also talked about dynastic politics being a reality in India.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 15:34 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addresses a gathering at the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California, on Monday.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addresses a gathering at the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California, on Monday. (PTI)

Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said he was ready to take over as the Congress chief but it was up to the party, and an electoral process for that was on.

The 47-year-old Congress vice-president was replying to question whether he was ready to take charge of the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, unlike 2014 when he declined to be the prime ministerial candidate.

“I am absolutely ready to do that but the way our party works, we have an organisational election process that decides that and that process is currently ongoing,” he said during a question-answer session after addressing students at University of California, Berkeley on India at 70: Reflections on the Path Forward.

“We have an internal system where we elect certain delegates who make that decision. So for me to say that the decision is mine, that wouldn’t be very fair. That’s the decision that the Congress party has to make and that’s the process which is currently going on right now,” he said.

When asked about the accusations of Congress being a dynastic party, Gandhi said it was a problem in all political parties in India.

“Most of the country runs like this. So, don’t go after me. Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast, Mr Stalin (DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s son) is a dynast, Mr (Prem Kumar) Dhumal’s son (Anurag Thakur of the BJP) is a dynast. Even Mr Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast, also Mr Ambani,” he said.

“That’s what happens in India and just the way India runs. The real question is if that person is a capable, sensitive person.”

Gandhi, who is on a two-week tour of the United States, accepted the Congress lost touch with people in the run-up to 2014 election that saw the BJP sweep the polls and his party reduced to its worst ever tally of 44 seats.

“Somewhere around 2012, certain arrogance crept into Congress and they stopped having a conversation with people,” he said.

The Congress leader, however, was unsparing in his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.

Demonetisation and hurriedly implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) had hit growth hard, he said, adding note ban caused tremendous damage to the economy as the decision taken without discussion with the chief economic adviser and Parliament.

Gandhi also criticised the government over the recent spate in lynchings, saying the politics of polarisation was very dangerous.

“Hatred, anger and violence can destroy us. Liberal journalists are being shot. People are being lynched, Dalits are being killed over suspicions of carrying beef, Muslims are killed over suspicions of eating beef, all this is new in India,” he said.

Gandhi conceded Modi had good communication skills. “He has certain skills. He’s a very good communicator and understands how to deliver a message to three or four groups in a crowd; his messaging ability is very subtle,” he said.

“I’m an opposition leader, but Mr Modi is also my Prime Minister. He’s a very good communicator, probably much better than me….. but what I sense is that he doesn’t converse with people he works with. Even many BJP MPs told me that he doesn’t listen to anyone.”

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 13:08 IST

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