Opposition stands united in 'shared fundamental ideas'


Opposition stands united in shared fundamental ideas
Confident of a sweeping victory.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi shares his views on the prospects of a united opposition front in the coming polls


Issac John

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Published: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 5:21 PM

There are many different ideas in the opposition, but there are also fundamental shared ideas. We differ with some of the parties; they differ with us on certain aspects. But we agree with them on a large number of fundamental agreements. Let me tell you what the fundamental agreement is on.

First, we will not allow India's institutions to be destroyed and captured. Second, we will not allow India, where one organisation namely BJP and RSS is going to determine the future our country. Third, we will not allow in India, which is full of hatred towards castes, communities and religions. And finally, we will not allow in India, where the prime minister is operating in an arbitrary fashion, and carrying out actions like demonetisation, completely destroying our economy, completely destroying agriculture, completely destroying the informal sector. On this, you can go and ask any member of the opposition, and there will be agreement.

Now there are of course, tactical disagreements. Somebody might say, look we would like an alliance of this nature, that nature. Now, let me lay out for you, what the map of India looks like. For our alliance in Tamil Nadu, the fundamentals are agreed up on; Maharashtra, they are agreed on, Jharkhand, they are agreed on, Andhra Pradesh, we have a new relationship with Telugu Desam. In Jammu Kashmir, we have an old partnership; in Bihar, we have an old partnership. So, if you look at the map of India, I can tell you where we are in synch with the opposition.

Now, I would like to ask a question to you. Tell me about the BJP's relationships with their partners. The ShivSena is abusing the BJP. Telegu Desam has left the BJP. Nitishji is shaky. BJD is shaky. Upendra Kushwaha in Bihar has quit the NDA. It is pretty clear that the nation has polarised around two axes and 60 per cent of the nation is with us.

Are you hopeful that BSP and SP support in UP?
Let us see. That is an open question. If we contest separately and, SP and BSP contest separately, the three parties will spread well. What we can guarantee you is whether there is a Congress, SP, BSP alliance or a SP, BSP alliance, and Congress fighting separately, the BJP is going to get decimated in the UP, we can guarantee you. We can tell you, it is going to get wiped out in Maharashtra. We can tell you they will get wiped out in Bihar. We can tell you they will not get seats in Orissa. We can tell you they will get wiped out in Karnataka.

Why do you feel so confident of a sweeping victory?
Because there is tremendous anger in the country. You saw the BJP was absolutely convinced that they are going to win these three state elections, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarah, which are very strong supporters of the BJP over the last 15 years.
But that anger was not that much reflected as you claim in the recent state elections where your party won by not such a wide margin.
Let me frame what you said differently. You said that, the Press said that. Modi had a massive swing in 2014. To win the election we had to have an even bigger swing. Our swing is actually bigger than Modi's swing in 2014. No one in the Press is saying that. The vote share that is moved towards the Congress in these three elections is bigger than the shift that Modi created. Do you agree? The wave you take has to be bigger than the wave that took you here. It is going to be actually a massive movement of vote share against the BJP.

How about Congress-led front's alliance with the Leftists?
We are in confrontation with them in Kerala. I have left it to my state units, depending on where they think, the CPI, CPI-M, if agreement is possible. I leave that to them, I am a decentraliser, so my general position is, if my state unit says, they wanted to do this, I generally agree to what they are saying. I like to listen the voice of the people and the Congress party in the state unit.

Whichever party comes to power, NRIs feel always are left in the lurch. If you come to power, would you consider giving them a representation in the parliament through nomination?
I don't want to get into specifics. But, I want to remind you a couple of things. The Congress Party, the backbone of the Congress party was NRIs. The Congress party is connected to our Diaspora. And, when you have seen, when the Congress party has done well, it is used the energy of the Diaspora. I can give you numerous examples - Mr. Kurien of Anand, Mr. Sam Pitroda, and Mr. Manmohan Singh - so realise that a lot of our ideas are coming from our Diaspora.

We have a deep respect and relationship with our Diaspora and want to give them a voice, politically and emotionally. We are working on that. Please look at the ideas, whether it is the White Revolution, or liberalisation, or even the Green Revolution by Indian scientist in the US and Telecom Revolution by Sam Pitroda, all the big ideas have had a partnership between India and the Diaspora.

What I am proposing is - the difference - Narendra Modiji has been in power for five years. If you look at the first term of Manmohan Singh, you see some ground-breaking strategic ideas. You see MGNREGA that transform the countryside. You see the Right to Information. If you look at 1990s, you see the computer revolution; the Green Revolution, and the White Revolution.

Now please tell me what Narendra Modi has done last five years of that nature, of transformational nature. Demonetisation - he has taken a working - in the US, they say sometimes if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Right, Mr. Modi, has taken something that was not broken, broken it, and destroyed it - the culture of love and affection, culture of togetherness.

People used to look towards RBI in India. The world used to look towards RBI in India, and say what they are doing. When there was an economic shock in 2008, everybody has got decimated. The US got decimated. The Indian economy was standing tall. Everybody looked at the Supreme Court of India, the Planning Commission, and Election Commission. They have destroyed them all.

The Supreme Court Justices are coming out and saying we are not allowed to do their work, and they take Mr. Amit Shah's case - Judge Loya's name. So, you have taken what has been built over the years and its assets and destroyed them. Please tell me one positive achievement of Modi. I can't see it. You ask any small and medium shopkeepers, small and medium businessman about GST. They tell you that this is the worst thing that could be done to us. This is not a GST. There are five different taxes.

- issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

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