5 Key Things Rahul Gandhi Wants You To Know And No, It’s Not About How He Eats Mangoes
For starters, if a Congress government does come to power, it won’t be a one-man show.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has given a series of interviews to major media outlets in the past few weeks, including the latest where he faced one of India’s most formidable and respected journalists — NDTV’s Ravish Kumar. He gave other interviews to Hindustan Times, India Today, CNN-News18 and The Indian Express.
Unlike other “non-political” interviews, none of these interviews focus on Gandhi’s mango-related preferences. They do, however, provide us necessary insight into the Congress’ strategies and vision. Here’s a list of 5 such things:
In Uttar Pradesh, Congress is also thinking long-term
Gandhi told India Today, “We wanted one (alliance) in UP, but the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party felt they wanted to fight by themselves. Respectfully, I said fine, but we’re also going to make our space. And I’ve told Priyanka and Jyotiraditya very clearly, agenda number one: defeat the BJP in UP.”
While agenda number one might be to defeat the BJP for now, he makes it clear that the Congress will fight for its ideology in the state, and Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia are part of the long-term plan. “Now my long-term position in UP is very clear and I have told Jyotir and my sister that we have to build the party in UP and that is assembly elections. And in the short-term here in Lok Sabha we have to fight for our space, we have to make sure our space is defended. We have to defend our ideology in UP and wherever we feel that there is fight between the gathbandhan and BJP, we are going to support the gathbandhan,” he told NDTV.
Unlike PM Modi, he relies on expert advice (thank god)
Having suffered demonetisation, about which the RBI had warned the BJP govt that it would not help curb black money, the Indian public could really use leaders who listen to advisors and experts. Clouds don’t provide cover from military radars and someone should be able to tell the government that before sending out IAF jets on a mission.
In his interviews, Gandhi often refers to a team and international experts while talking about NYAY. “We have made a financial model for NYAY and tested it thoroughly and my team believes that it can be executed without causing any damage to the economy. This view is supported by some of the world’s best-known economists whom we have consulted and asked for help in validating our approach,” he told India Today.
Makings of a welfare state
Gandhi has talked about free healthcare, free public education and of course, NYAY which is a direct cash benefit for the poorest people in India. “We’re going to invest serious money in education and healthcare and that will create millions of new government jobs. Urbanised India needs a public healthcare system and a much stronger public education system,” he told India Today.
Under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh, the previous government enacted the MGNREGA, the world’s largest employment guarantee programme. Studies have showed how the scheme has helped lift people out of poverty, prevented seasonal migration and increased rural household incomes. The UPA also has the enactment of Right to Education Act to its credit, which made primary education free and compulsory across the country. Considering this, Gandhi’s current promise of investing in public education and health are not all without precedent.
The Congress acknowledges limitations of the UPA’s policies
Gandhi has been forthcoming about that the fact that some of the UPA government’s policies in later years are not sufficient to meet the needs of the Indian economy today. And that the party has invested time and thinking into overhauling the same.
“The biggest threat to the nation is that what worked for India in the 1990s doesn’t work anymore. And Mr Modi refuses to accept it. We accepted it. Our policies worked till about 2012. They began to falter in the last two years of the UPA. Mr Modi is doing what we were trying to do between 2012 and 2014, and he has added to it completely insane ideas like demonetisation! So you have an economy that isn’t firing and suddenly the PM decides to entirely decimate Indian business,” he told India Today.
He doesn’t not want to be the Prime Minister, but understands the Congress’ current position
In almost all interviews, the inevitable question posed to him was that if he saw himself as the future Prime Minister. Gandhi did not say yes nor did he dismiss the remark, a reasonable strategy for the leader of a major political party.
Running a coalition government is not easy, and the personal ambitions of leaders of equal stature can become the root of conflict. Given that Congress’ low tally in 2014 election, he’s is aware that if the party was to come into power in 2019, it will be with the help of other regional parties. Hence, Gandhi’s measured words point to better prospects for the opposition in a post-poll scenario.