Rahul Gandhi’s scathing attack on BJP-led Union government, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gives hints about Congress’ game plan for 2019 General elections: It will try to beat BJP in its own game. That Rahul chose a foreign platform at UC Berkeley to pelt political barbs on Modi government today, may have come as a surprise to the saffron camp. But it can expect more in the run up to 2019. Interestingly, Rahul has just started playing the game, Modi appears to have mastered.
In the last three years, during his numerous foreign visits, PM Modi has made it a point to address NRIs and people of Indian origin, highlight achievements of his government, while blasting the past ones, mostly led by the Congress. Modi’ speeches from foreign soil has always annoyed and embarrassed the Congress, which now appears all set to give it back to Modi and the BJP.
Rahul’s speech at US Berkeley, however, had many points that may prove to be a self-goal for the Congress. The Congress vice-president has made several gaffes in his past speeches, but doing so from a foreign soil may further increase Congress’ plight.
For the first time, Rahul said he is “absolutely ready” for the executive role, that is becoming the Prime Minister of India. This may infuse new energy among Congress cadre, but party would have tough times ahead trying to stand with Rahul’s justification of dynastic rule. “Most of the country runs like this, so don’t go after me, Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast, Mr Stalin is a dynast, Mr Dhumal’s son is a dynast. Even Mr. Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast, also Mr Ambani,” Rahul said.
It sounds ironic that even as Congress is essentially a party ruled by one family, Rahul claimed the party has internal democracy. “Congress as a party believes in having a conversation and discussion. Most of my work is sitting in a room, listening to people. I collect that information and come out with a solution that makes everyone happy.” By voicing this, Rahul has just given further fodder to the saffron brigade.
Rahul’s acceptance of “arrogance” in the Congress camp came as a welcome confession. This is something recently pointed out by senior party leader Jairam Ramesh as well. But Rahul and the Congress have tough tasks ahead. The Congress vice-president should be wary of what he says. As he himself considers Modi as a “much better” communicator than him. Both Modi and BJP would now try to milk everything out of Rahul’s speech in coming months.