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Dear Rahul Gandhi...

Author: Mayuresh Didolkar
Publication: Swarajyamag.com
Date: October 3, 2017
URL:   https://swarajyamag.com/amp/story/politics%2Fdear-rahul-gandhi

Rahul Gandhi recently gave an interview to Huffington Post in America where he equated Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Philippines’s Rodrigo Duterte saying both leaders “thrive on hatred and disrespect institutions”.

Here is an open letter addressed to the Congress scion in response.

Dear Rahul Gandhi,

Late Dev Anand, in his super-hit film ‘Asli Naqli’, where he plays a rich man’s grandson, complains “no sooner I drew a line on paper, everyone claimed no painter ever had shown such imagination’. As the scion of India’s first family, perhaps you must have had similar experiences all your life. The praises heaped upon you for your talks across two American campuses and your interview with Nicolas Berggruen in Huffington Post are two latest examples of such fawning. So, I thought you might find a contrary view point refreshing. I know, as the vice president of a party fighting for survival, you have a lot of demand on your time and even though you think all of us who are supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are without jobs, actually, I run two businesses full-time. So I will try to be as brief as possible.

Before we analyse your interview with HuffPost, I must say the choice of Nicolas Berggruen as an interviewer, while curious, was not altogether inappropriate. The so called homeless billionaire is, like you, the descendent of a rich and famous family. Berggruen was most recently in news for paying over $300,000 (Rs 1,96,93,500) to the French ex-defence minister Sylvie Goulard through his United States of America (USA) based think-tank. Goulard has now resigned over her party’s use of assistants in the European parliament. I wonder if at any time during your chat, you asked Berggruen for tips on how to use the platform provided by successful parents to build your own success story, something you have failed to do so far.

Your interview itself begins with a very worrying answer where you said -

The central difference between the United States and India’s system is that India is composed of 29 states with completely different cultures and languages. In that sense, our diversity is more like Europe’s. If you look at states like Tamil Nadu [in the south] and Mizoram [in the northeast], the differences between them are greater than between any two countries in Europe.

Rahul Gandhi in an interview

I think, you will forgive many people like me for wondering why the leader of India’s oldest party is voluntarily comparing his country, one of the oldest civilisations in the world, with a political and economic union of 28 states that came into existence officially only in 1992. In light of attempts made by American educationists to de-recognise pre-independence India as ‘South Asia’, it sounds like you too feel India would be better off as a bunch of autonomous states only coming together for certain core economic and political activities. As a leader of the Congress party, if you want to push for a similar structure, then your voters are entitled to know this clearly. I think a follow-up statement on your part is needed.

In the same answer, I found your comments about economic insecurity especially amusing. Amusing also, were your views on how the right is supposedly exploiting the anxieties over identity since it is your party’s government in Karnataka that is at present engaged in most aggressive form of identity politics over language, even going to the length of not allowing Hindi language signboards in prominent locations that might help the non-Kannadiga migrant population to navigate in the state.

Even as I write this today, I read that the Karnataka government is mulling over 100 per cent reservation for Kannadigas for blue-collar jobs in the private sector. All of this is happening with your full knowledge and implied consent and I think it is duplicitous of you to bring your opposition’s identity politics without acknowledging that your own party suffers from the same problem.

The most shocking part comes next when you say –

Tribals, Dalits and Muslims are simply being told by the ruling party that they cannot be part of India’s vision. Journalists are being shot dead.

Rahul Gandhi

Anybody with even rudimentary knowledge of Indian discourse would know this to be not true. In fact, the first part sounds hilariously similar to Kerry Washington’s rant at last year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) where she talked about the then Republican nominee Donald Trump taking away women’s right to vote. She is not in politics per se, and earns her living as an actress. I don’t know what your excuse is.

Just to cite a few examples – the Prime Minister himself comes from the Other Backward Class (OBC) community. Even in his first cabinet close, to 50 per cent posts were held by Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribe (ST) /OBC community members. The President, nominated by the BJP, belongs to the Dalit community.

Your late father, on the other hand, in spite of having a brute majority in both houses of parliament, refused to stand up for a helpless Muslim woman get her rights. It is the current ruling party that unequivocally took the stand against the archaic and unfair practice of triple talaq. These are not arguments Rahulji, these are matters of history and when a senior leader like you chooses to lie blithely about it, it reflects very poorly on your credibility as a future leader. Your recent episodes of lies during your tour of Gujarat, point to a pattern that ought to worry a lot of voters.

Equally worrying is, you talking about “journalists shot dead” where the hyperlink in the interview leads to the news of the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh who was killed in the capital of Karnataka, a state ruled by your party. The last time I read the Constitution of India, law and order was a state subject. Instead of taking the moral responsibility of not being able to safeguard the states you are ruling, you have indulged in blatant misrepresentation of facts.

Merriam Webster defines the phrase ‘talking a good game’ as – to say things that make people believe that one can do something or that something is true about oneself even though it is not true. A large part of your interview, especially on the economy and policy issues is an example of you talking a good game. For example, about centralisation of power you say – “The main problem in India is overconcentration of power. Almost all important decisions in India today are taken at the Prime Minister’s level. And at the state level, they’re taken by the Chief Minister”.

Anyone even faintly acquainted with the history of your party would notice the hypocrisy of a Congress leader speaking about centralisation of power at once. For nearly seven decades, essentially one family took all the decisions about the party, and consequently about the country itself. In my own state of Maharashtra, Congress had as many as 18 Chief Ministers in a total period of just over 27 years. Converting the chief ministerial seat to some form of musical chair doesn’t sound terribly decentralised, does it? Rajiv Gandhi, when he was the general secretary of the party, had once called a sitting CM of Andhra Pradesh a ‘buffoon’ because the latter had failed to show up at the airport to receive Rajiv. Charity begins at home Rahul ji, so why don’t you start working on the decentralisation thing in your own party before talking about it as a system of governance?

Your example of the Mizoram insurgency as a model for dealing with insurgency is worrying as well. Especially your statement “not by stamping them down and trying to crush them, but by pushing power out” seems to come out with the assumption that all insurgencies are essentially a result of some form of wrong committed by the state. I wonder if you feel the same way about the Islamic terrorism in the valley of Kashmir that was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s.

Your concern over burgeoning population and the job market is well founded and shared by all of us. However, I fail to understand if you think this problem started in 2014? You talk about Modi coming to power with promises of jobs but fail to mention that such a promise could appeal to the large electorate only because of your own government’s dismal track record at producing jobs in the previous two terms.

Similarly, I think you conflate disrespect for power structures (like the infamous Lutyen’s) for disrespect for institutions. Narendra Modi and his team have taken power through democratic (institutional) means. What Modi, however, has done is refused to co-opt the multiple power structures your family/party have built over the years. There is a difference between the two.

The truth is, you rose to the top of your party without ever fighting an election, you have not been blamed for a string of electoral failures since late 2013. You call the parliament ‘a debating society without any power’ whereas Modi calls the same parliament a ‘temple of democracy’. I don’t wish to split hairs Rahul ji, but tell me, who is really disrespecting the institutions?

Ironically, as you were waxing eloquent that the central fight between the BJP and the Congress party is about caste, your mother and the party president were sacking Bihar Pradesh Congress committee president Ashok Choudhary, a Dalit leader.

You closed your rant by saying Modi is a status-quoist in guise of a reformer. If you leave the politics aside for a minute, the idea that the son of a poor OBC family, who served tea on India’s railway station before rising to the highest office in the country would be a status quo-ist while the scion of a family who was elevated to the top post of his party, and whose fortunes are not dependent on the party’s electoral performance is a reformer, are beyond ludicrous and needs no rebuttal.

Frankly speaking, the people who should truly worry about this interview are your own cadre. While I was growing up in rural India, Congress was considered as the party of the common people and the BJP/Janata were considered somewhat boutique parties that attracted only special interest groups. Nearly three decades from the time your late father swept to power with unprecedented majority, we have come a full circle and the Congress is increasingly sounding like a boutique party ruled by an unelected dynasty who is advised by page 3 types with no connect to India’s masses whatsoever.

The electoral results are a mirror Rahul Gandhi. So, please stop blaming the fractures in the glass and find out why the image looks so bleak.
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PMO India @PMOIndia
आज मुझे बहुत खुशी है कि मैं ऐसे विद्वानों के बीच आया हूं जो इस बात के लिए जिम्मेदार हैं कि देश में मौजूद प्रत्येक कंपनी कानून का पालन करे, अपने बही-खातों में गड़बड़ी ना करे, पूरी पारदर्शिता रखे: PM @narendramodi
6:29 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
आप अपनी जिम्मेदारी जिस तरह से निभाते हैं, उसी से देश का corporate culture तय होता है। आपकी संस्था का motto भी है- “सत्यम वद्, धर्मम चर्” यानि सत्य बोलो और नियम-कानून का पालन करो। आपकी दी हुई सही या गलत सलाह देश के corporate governance को प्रभावित करती है: PM @narendramodi
6:30 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
हमारे देश में भी मुट्ठी भर लोग ऐसे हैं, जो देश की प्रतिष्ठा को, हमारी ईमानदार सामाजिक संरचना को कमजोर करने का काम करते रहे हैं। इन लोगों को सिस्टम और संस्थाओं से हटाने के लिए सरकार ने पहले दिन से स्वच्छता अभियान शुरू किया हुआ है: PM @narendramodi
6:33 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
ये सरकार के अथक परिश्रम का ही परिणाम है कि आज देश की अर्थव्यवस्था कम Cash के साथ चल रही है। Demonetisation के बाद Cash to GDP Ratio अब 9 प्रतिशत पर आ गया है। 8 नवंबर 2016 से पहले ये 12 प्रतिशत से ज्यादा हुआ करता था: PM @narendramodi
6:36 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
There are some people who sleep well only after they spread a feeling of pessimism all around. We need to recognise such people: PM @narendramodi
6:39 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
पिछली सरकार के 6 साल में 8 बार ऐसे मौके आए जब विकास दर 5.7 प्रतिशत या उससे नीचे गिरी। देश की अर्थव्यवस्था ने ऐसे क्वार्टर्स भी देखे हैं, जब विकास दर 0.2 प्रतिशत, 1.5 प्रतिशत तक गिरी: PM @narendramodi
6:41 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
ऐसी गिरावट अर्थव्यवस्था के लिए और ज्यादा खतरनाक थी, क्योंकि इन वर्षों में भारत Higher Inflation, Higher Current Account Deficit और Higher Fiscal Deficit से जूझ रहा था: PM @narendramodi
6:41 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
GDP growth rate over the years.
6:43 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
भाइयों और बहनों, मैं ना कोई अर्थशास्त्री हूं और ना ही कभी मैंने ऐसा claim किया है, लेकिन आज जब अर्थव्यवस्था पर इतनी चर्चा हो रही है, तो मैं आपको flashback में भी लेकर जाना जाता हूं: PM @narendramodi
6:44 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
एक दौर वो था जब अंतरराष्ट्रीय अर्थव्यवस्था के संदर्भ में भारत को एक नए ग्रुप का हिस्सा बनाया गया था। ये ग्रुप जी-7, जी-8, जी-20 जैसा ग्रुप नहीं था। इस ग्रुप का नाम था- Fragile Five: PM @narendramodi
6:45 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
इसे ऐसा Dangerous ग्रुप माना गया था जिसकी खुद की अर्थव्यवस्था तो एक समस्या थी ही, बल्कि ये वैश्विक अर्थव्यवस्था की Recovery में भी बाधा बन रहे थे: PM @narendramodi
6:45 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
मेरे जैसे अर्थशास्त्र के कम जानकार को अब भी ये समझ नहीं आता कि उस समय बड़े-बड़े अर्थशास्त्रियों के रहते ऐसा कैसे हो गया था: PM @narendramodi
6:46 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Inflation over the years.
6:47 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Fiscal deficit over the years.
6:49 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Foreign exchange reserves over the years.
6:50 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
ये बात सही है कि पिछले तीन वर्षों में 7.5 प्रतिशत की औसत ग्रोथ हासिल करने के बाद इस वर्ष अप्रैल-जून की तिमाही में GDP ग्रोथ में कमी दर्ज की गई। लेकिन ये बात भी उतनी ही सही है कि सरकार इस ट्रेंड को रिवर्स करने के लिए पूरी तरह से प्रतिबद्ध हैं: PM
6:50 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
हमने reform से जुड़े कई महत्वपूर्ण फैसले लिए हैं और ये प्रक्रिया लगातार जारी रहेगी। देश की financial stability को भी maintain रखा जाएगा। निवेश बढ़ाने और आर्थिक विकास को गति देने के लिए हम हर आवश्यक कदम उठाते रहेंगे: PM @narendramodi
6:51 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
मैं आश्वस्त करना चाहता हूं कि सरकार द्वारा लिए गए कदम देश को आने वाले वर्षों में विकास की एक नई league में रखने वाले हैं: PM @narendramodi
6:51 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
बदलती हुई देश की इस अर्थव्यवस्था में अब ईमानदारी को प्रीमियम मिलेगा, ईमानदारों के हितों की सुरक्षा की जाएगी: PM @narendramodi
6:52 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
A trend of increased consumption after June 2017.
6:58 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Increase in sale of tractors.
6:59 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Some facts on the roads sector.
7:03 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Here are some numbers from the railways sector.
7:05 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
पिछली सरकार ने अपने आखिरी के तीन सालों में Renewable Energy पर 4 हजार करोड़ रुपए खर्च किए थे। हमारी सरकार ने अपने तीन साल में इस सेक्टर पर 10 हजार 600 करोड़ रुपए से भी अधिक खर्च किए हैं: PM @narendramodi
7:06 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
हमने affordable Housing के क्षेत्र में ऐसे-ऐसे नीतिगत निर्णय लिए हैं, वित्तीय सुधार किए हैं, जो इस क्षेत्र के लिए अभूतपूर्व हैं: PM @narendramodi
7:06 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Big boost to the housing sector.
7:07 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
पिछले तीन वर्षों में 21 सेक्टरों से जुड़े 87 छोटे-बड़े Reform किए गए हैं। Defence सेक्टर, Construction सेक्टर, Financial Services, Food Processing, जैसे कितने ही सेक्टरों में निवेश के नियमों में बड़े बदलाव हुए हैं: PM @narendramodi
7:10 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
देश के आर्थिक क्षेत्र को खोलने के बाद से लेकर अब तक जितना विदेशी निवेश भारत में हुआ है, उसकी तुलना अगर पिछले तीन वर्षों में हुए निवेश से करें, तो आपको पता चलेगा कि हमारी सरकार जो Reform कर रही है, उसका नतीजा क्या मिल रहा है: PM @narendramodi
7:10 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
मेहनत से कमाए गए आपके एक एक पैसे की कीमत ये सरकार समझती है। इसलिए सरकार की नीतियों और योजनाओं में इस बात का भी ध्यान रखा जा रहा है कि वो गरीबों और मध्यम वर्ग की जिंदगी तो आसान बनाएं हीं, उनके पैसों की भी बचत कराएं: PM
7:14 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Fall in price of LED bulbs.
7:16 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
मैं जानता हूं कि रेवड़ी बांटने के बजाय, लोगों और देश को Empower करने के काम में, कई बार मुझे आलोचना का भी सामना करना पड़ेगा, लेकिन मैं अपने वर्तमान की चिंता में, देश के भविष्य को दांव पर नहीं लगा सकता: PM @narendramodi
7:21 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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PMO India @PMOIndia
Mudra Yojana transforming lives.
10:04 PM - Oct 4, 2017
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