Rahul Bilkis Bano
Rahul has never really made an effort to deflate the impression that he is the one who is pulling the strings. In fact, if anything, his conduct shows that he seems to rather enjoy the appellation of a backseat driver with an insatiable appetite for privilege.

Accepting Cong has lost touch with people, Rahul calls for mass contact programmes

Admitting that the Congress has lost connection with the people, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the party will have to go to the people to “take on the vicious agenda of the BJP and the RSS”.

“We have to go to the people, revive the connection the Congress once had with the people. We have to accept that we have lost that connection,” he said while delivering the valedictory address on the last day of the Congress party’s Chintan Shivir in Udaipur.

Saying that there was no shortcut to this Rahul said, “It has been decided that the Congress will go to the people, carry out a yatra, and reconnect with the masses…This organisation was born out of the public; we have no option but to go back to the people.”

Call for mass contact programmes

“We must have mass contact programmes that aren’t for a day or two but go on for months,” he said adding, “We have to transform the nature of the Congress, not in terms of its thinking and ideology, but in terms of how we work.”

Saying that the party had prepared papers that give a clear direction and spell out the way to go ahead, Rahul stressed on the need for good communication. “If there is one area where our opponents outdo us, it is in communication. We must completely reform our communication system.”

Also read: At Chintan Shivir, Cong mulls narratives to reboot ‘endangered’ social justice politics

Touching briefly on internal bickering in the Congress, he said, “We have a lot of internal focus in the party — who gets what post and all. Our focus has to be external. We have to go to the people and fight against the present system.”

Promoting youth

He also came out in support of the idea that certain positions in the party should be for younger people. “We have to have a healthy mix of youngsters and seniors; we have to aggressively do this, Rahul said, adding, “We have to aggressively change our district and block Congress committees so that they can take on the vicious agenda of the BJP and RSS.”

“I also endorse the idea that only one person from a family should be given a ticket. I know there is a caveat here but we must do this as much as possible. Let other members of the family work for the organisation,” he said.

‘Cong the main force to fight BJP’

Putting Congress at the forefront of the fight against the ruling BJP, which he termed “not an easy one,” the Congress leader said, “It is not a fight regional parties can fight. It is an ideological fight between the ideology of the BJP-RSS and that of the Congress.”

“Regional parties don’t have an ideology; they have an approach that changes from place to place. Congress ideology is common across the country,” he said and to buttress his point added, “the BJP attacks the Congress, not the regional parties, because the BJP knows that regional parties can’t defeat the BJP nationally.”

‘BJP, RSS destroying institutions’

In a sharp attack on the BJP and the RSS, Rahul pointed out that the ruling party was compromising institutions. “We see this destruction every day when opposition MPs are not allowed to speak in Parliament, when media is muzzled, when institutions are compromised.”

Attacking the central government on its policies, he said, “India’s farmers are facing a crisis. Modi ji has banned the export of wheat; it’s impact can be felt across Punjab and other states. Today India’s youth can’t find employment. The government has destroyed the future of our youth through its crony capitalism of favouring 4-5 industrialists, policies like demonetisation and flawed GST.”

“We are turning demographic dividend into a demographic disaster,” Rahul said, adding that the fight ahead was an ideological one and that the Congress had a responsibility to counter the BJP and its policies.

“I am against the hate and violence being spread by the RSS and BJP and I want to fight that…We are not fighting a political party. The party is only a part; we are fighting every institution of the country, we are fighting the biggest crony capitalists of the country,” he said, mincing no words.

He was confident that “there was now (after Chintan Shivir) a lot of clarity on where the party has to go in terms of its politics and policies.” He also called for more discussions as held in Udaipur, “I think we should have these discussions much more often. They also allow us to come together and work like a family.”

Also read: Bullet points: What the 6 Congress panels recommended at Chintan Shivir

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