Long accused of lacking a broader narrative on the issues he speaks on, Rahul Gandhi on Friday provided an adequate glimpse of the policy roadmap of the Congress under him.
Speaking at a media event in New Delhi, the Congress president articulated a clear position on several matters, including the party's stand on the industry sector and the approach to the Opposition's grand alliance.
While expressing his readiness for the post of prime minister, the Congress president made it clear that his party is not anti-industry and open to discussions on country’s development.
Earlier, Gandhi, in his public addresses and election rallies, wasn’t clear about his narrative and lacked coherence in the charges he had leveled against the Narendra Modi-led government.
The striking feature of Gandhi’s address and interaction on Friday was his candid acceptance of agreeing to become prime minister, if his alliance partners want him to be and how it might happen.
“If they want me, sure,” said Gandhi with confidence, when asked if he would take the top job next year if his party comes to power.
While responding to a volley of questions in an interaction session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, he said, “There’re two stages to it. First, we’ve to defeat BJP. And the second stage is that if we win and they (allies) want me to be the PM, sure.”
He also made clear what his party’s policy would be towards farmers, small and medium enterprises, industry, employment generation and development in social sector.
Till now, he had been accused of only attacking Prime Minister Modi and his policies, which people viewed as random criticism without any specific policy or plan.
Rahul Gandhi's policy roadmap
Gandhi outlined his party’s policy roadmap, giving a hint that if it comes to power, it would focus on strengthening small and medium enterprises (SMEs), redressing farmers’ issues and supporting low cost-high quality healthcare and education system in the country.
“There are two central problems. One central problem is that India isn’t creating jobs. Open up small, medium businesses...I’ll strengthen the small and medium enterprises. I will make farmers feel they are important. I’ll build low cost-high quality medical and education infrastructure,” he emphasised.
He told the audience that due to lack of conversation between the Modi government and the larger parts of India, anger has brewed up among people.
Gandhi said that while listening to people is very important, his strategy would be to have conversations with different small groups, get ideas from them and carry them forward.
“Agriculture needs to be linked to industry for economic growth and farmers are not opposed to industry. But you’ll have to start the conversation. You’ll have to diffuse the anger that’s taking place. Even though farmers and industry have to work together, that conversation is not happening today,” he pointed out.
Strongly criticising the government over demonetisation, GST, farmer suicide, falling price of rupee, unemployment, rising bank non-performing assets (NPAs), petrol price reaching an all-time high, etc, he said, “Today in India, fear is palpable and aspiration is turning into anger.”
Gandhi also gave an indication that if Congress comes to power, it would focus on social sector programmes like MNREGA.
Responding to a question on India’s Human Development Index ranking, he said, “UPA has a phenomenal record of pulling people out of poverty through its strategic programmes like MNREGA.”
On grand alliance
Congress’ plan to strike an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party in poll-bound states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh failed. The BSP supremo Mayawati openly criticised the Congress and its senior leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh, saying that alliance with Congress was not possible in states due to its arrogance.
Despite Mayawati’s remark, Gandhi sounded optimistic and confident about a possible alliance ahead of 2019 election.
“Alliances in states are different from a national alliance. Mayawatiji indicated that. I don’t see an alliance happening in MP, but in national election, we’ll come together. We’re confident of winning in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana,” he asserted.
A cautionary note
While the Congress president exuded confidence in his speech and in communicating party’s ideas on governance, bringing in economic growth and striking an alliance for a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), political pundits are wary about the implementation part.
They strongly feel that the Congress president has to come out of the past UPA shadow to succeed.
“If Rahul Gandhi wants his new ideas to get successfully implemented, he has to liberate himself from old leaders of Sonia Gandhi’s UPA regime. He has to promote new people, new talents. At present, it’s Sonia’s Congress, with Rahul as its new president; rest no change,” MD Nalapat, political analyst and director, geopolitics at Manipal University, told Firstpost.
“PM Modi uses bureaucrats who were prominent during the UPA tenure and politicians of Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, and it led to disappointing results. Indira Gandhi refreshed the Congress party in 1969 and 1978 by getting new faces and succeeded. Rahul should take a lesson out of it to succeed,” added Nalapat.
Updated Date: Oct 05, 2018 19:25 PM