Following his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, also the then Prime Minister of India’s footsteps, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice president addressed a wide group of students from various Universities, politicians and global thinkers in University of California, Berkeley on 11th September. The topic of the event was, “India at 70: Reflections on the path forward”.
Shashi Tharoor, the Senior Congress leader who was also at the event tweeted, “A speech marked by acuity and passion, and a discussion infused with candour and insight”.
Mr. Gandhi addressed important issues like demonetisation, low economic growth, unemployment and also questioned the present day politics of the ruling party in India in his speech. He talks about the rising radicalism in India, polarisation in politics and rise of non-tolerance towards other communities. Mr. Gandhi said, “Hatred anger and violence and the politics of polarisation which has raised its ugly head in India today. Violence and hatred distract people from the task at hand. Liberal journalists being shot, people being lynched because they are Dalits, Muslims killed on suspicion of eating beef, this is new in India and damages India very badly. The politics of hate divides and polarises India making millions of people feel that they have no future in their own country. In today’s connected world, this is extremely dangerous. It isolates people and makes them vulnerable to radical ideas”.
Mr. Gandhi criticises the BJP government for implementing GST and imposing demonetisation. The greatest loss was suffered by the ones at the lowest level in the food chain: farmers and small time businesses who were wiped out due to this policy.
His criticism did not simply end with the BJP Government, but also the Congress Party as well. He acknowledged that the downfall of the Congress Party was due to arrogance that had crept into the party which stopped the party form communicating with the people. He believes that India had lost its vision and that the Congress was also to blame for it. Rebuilding the Congress Party is the challenge right now for him and also the Party.
While discussing the future of the Congress Party and his role in it, Mr. Gandhi addressed that the decision to take up the executive role in the party is not his decision alone as there is a structural process through which the Party decisions are made. However he mentioned that he is indeed ready to take up the role of leadership in the coming 2019 Elections.