Come 2019 polls, the Prime Ministerial candidature is multi-faceted. Rahul Gandhi kicked off his two week US tour with an address to students at University of California’s Berkeley. In his address, he clearly indicated his intentions of being open to the possibility of Congress’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2019 national election.
On being asked by the moderator if he was ready to be the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi said, “I am absolutely ready to do that…. We have an organisational party that decides that and that process is currently ongoing…That decision is something the Congress party should make.”
Congress had slid to its lowest tally ever in Parliament in the last election, Rahul Gandhi admitted that a “certain arrogance” has crept into the Congress and took full responsibility for a couple of years of lost opportunities from 2012.
On the accusation of being a dynast, Rahul Gandhi, in his defence chose humour as his response, to which the audience was amused on his reply, “Mr Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast, Mr Stalin is a dynast, even Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast. The Ambani kids are also running the company, that is just the way India runs. The real question is if that person is a capable, sensitive person.”
In very clear words, he attacked BJP by blaming them of festering “hatred, anger, violence and politics of polarisation”, quoting about the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru and about mobs lynching people on beef suspicions.
“It makes millions feel they have no future in their own country, isolates people and converts them to radicalization,” Rahul Gandhi opined.
Furthermore, he attacked the ruling BJP government on the overnight demonetisation, note ban, and said that it took away 2% from the growth of the Indian economy.
The decline has caused damage to agriculture and deep distress among farmers, he alleged.
Rahul Gandhi’s open criticism of Prime Minister Modi was found to be subtler than a direct one. He went on to admit that the Prime Minister was a better communicator, orator than him. He further praised PM Modi’s Make in India and Swachh Bharat initiatives.
But he differed with his approach to foreign policy, in contrast to PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi himself
would have made sure that not only did India have a solid relationship with the United States, but also that did not isolate others “such as Russia, Iran and our neighbouring countries.”
He further alleged that PM Modi has a team to manage his online machine of over a thousand people whose very purpose is to destroy Rahul Gandhi’s credibility, calling him “stupid and incompetent”.
Meanwhile, his itinerary looks quite busy as Rahul Gandhi arrived in San Francisco yesterday and will, during his two-week US tour, meet Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and thought leaders to develop a better path forward for the Congress party.
A highlight will be an event in New York City’s Marriot Hotel with a capacity of 1,900 people, where he addresses overseas Indians.
From San Francisco, Mr Gandhi will travel to Los Angeles. He is likely to visit Aspen Institute.
The Congress vice president will also travel to Washington DC and Princeton University before his final address in New York.