Despite the electoral reverses of the last three years, the Congress party appears to have taken the biggest gambit – taking the intolerance debate to the US – something that may make or break the Congress forever in 2019. Speaking in an outreach programme at the iconic Times Square in New York on Wednesday at the end of his two-week long tour of the United States, Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying “divisive politics” is ruining India’s reputation of peace and harmony abroad.
Noting that India has been able to live happily together for centuries because of the ideas of the Congress, he asked, “What happened to the tolerance that prevailed in India? What happened to the harmony?” “For thousands of years, India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged. There are forces in our country that are dividing the country. It is very dangerous for the country and it ruins our reputation abroad… Divisive politics is going on and it has to be fought,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by IANS. “India’s reputation in the world is very important. The world is transforming and people are looking towards us.”
“For thousands of years, India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged. There are forces in our country that are dividing the country. It is very dangerous for the country and it ruins our reputation abroad… Divisive politics is going on and it has to be fought,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by IANS. “India’s reputation in the world is very important. The world is transforming and people are looking towards us,” he added.
Gandhi further said, “Many countries in a violent world are looking towards India and saying may be India has the answer for the 21st century, maybe India has the answer for peaceful coexistence…So we cannot afford to lose our most powerful asset. Our most powerful asset is that 1.3 billion people lived happily, non-violently, peacefully… This is something that as Congress people, every single one of us has to defend.”
In his previous speeches during this visit to the US also, Rahul had questioned the alleged divisive politics of Modi government.
It is clear now that Rahul has set his eyes on the 2019 General Elections. Reports say he would be helming the Congress from November. But when he returns to India, Rahul will face two reality tests: First, the Gujarat assembly elections where he may need to pull off a miracle to beat the ruling BJP. A win would make Congress’ 2019 chances bright like never before. However, the Congress is already in a disarray in the state. Apart from the recent Rajya Sabha win for senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Congress has not heard any good news for a long time in Gujarat. The party would also have to secure Karnataka once again.
Secondly, Rahul would face the brute reality that raising voice against the so-called rising intolerance in the country hasn’t been politically very fruitful for the Congress in the last three years. The party’s vote-base has diminished gradually. Maybe the picture is not so dark as the opposition, including the Congress, have tried to paint in the last three years. The party may need to come up with more genuine ideas against Modi, BJP.