Congress versus Narendra Modi at UC Berkeley: Rahul Gandhi triggers battle that may decide 2019

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New Delhi | Published: September 12, 2017 2:51:45 PM

Early battle for 2019 started today when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took a foreign platform to lambast Modi government on all fronts.

rahul gandhi, rahul gandhi uc berkeley speech, narendra modi, congress versus modi, congress versus narendra modiBerkeley: Congress Vice President, Rahul Gandhi delivering a speech at Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California on Monday. (PTI Photo)

General Elections 2019 would be a no-holds barred battle for the crown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP and the opposition led by Congress. Surveys may have predicted an easy win for Modi in 2019, but Congress won’t offer this to BJP on a platter. Early battle for 2019 started today when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took a foreign platform to lambast Modi government on all fronts – be it the economy, jobs or security in Kashmir. It rarely happens in other countries, when opposition leaders use foreign stages to blast their own governments. But by using the UC Berkeley stage for attacking Modi government, Rahul has set the tone of the upcoming battle.

What Rahul said:

On Modi government’s economic priorities: “Currently all the attention in India is paid to the top 100 companies. Everything is geared towards them. Banking systems are monopolised by them, the doors of government are always open to them and laws are shaped by them.”

On violence, politics of hate: “Violence and hatred distract people from the task at hand. Liberal journalists being shot, people being lynched because they are Dalits, Muslims killed on suspicion of eating beef, this is new in India and damages India very badly. The politics of hate divides and polarises India making millions of people feel that the have no future in their own country.”

On Demonetisation, GST: “Decisions like demonetisation which removed 86 per cent of cash from circulation overnight and was carried out unilaterally without asking the Chief Economic Advisor, the Cabinet or even Parliament imposes a devastating cost in India…The government’s economic policies, demonetisation and hastily applied GST have caused tremendous damage. Millions of small businesses were simply wiped out as a result of demonetisation.”

“Demonetisation, a completely self-inflicted wound caused approximately 2 per cent loss in India’s GDP. India cannot afford to grow and create jobs at the current rate. If we continue at the current rate, if India cannot give the millions of people entering the job market employment, anger will increase and it has the potential to derail what is being built so far. That will be catastrophic for India and the world beyond it.”

On Dynasty: “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.”

On Congress arrogance: “The party decides policy and vision through conversations and not by imposition. However, in 2012, a certain arrogance crept into the party and we stopped having a conversation.”

How BJP responded

BJP leader and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani hit back at Rahul, saying, “To say that Congress became arrogant under Smt Gandhi and hence lost the election is a big political confession in itself.”

She added, “A failed dynast today chose to speak about his failed political journeys in USA. The fact that Mr. Gandhi chose to belittle the PM is not surprising infact expected.. After failing to connect with people of India Mr Gandhi chooses the platform of convenience for berating his political opponents….Fact that he (Rahul Gandhi) says that dynasts & dynasties is the very fulcrum of India in itself is an anomaly.”

Will Rahul benefit from his speech at UC Berkeley?

In Indian politics, nothing is permanent and predictable. While surveys and analysts may have already predicted Modi’s win in 2019, the wind can change in any direction in a matter of days.

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