Hamburg (Germany): Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday made a strong attack on the Narendra Modi government by referring to incidents of lynching and attacks on Dalits, saying people in India were angry and the ruling alliance was weakening support structures meant for the weaker sections.
Speaking at the Bucerius Summer School here in Germany, Gandhi also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over attacks on women, “lack of jobs,” demonetisation and “flawed” implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and said corporates were being favoured over the rights of the marginalised communities. Gandhi, who later took questions from the audience, also referred to his hugging the prime minister during the debate in parliament on the no-confidence motion, saying certain “hateful remarks” made against him by Modi prompted him to do so but “he (Modi) didn’t like and was upset by it”.
Gandhi is in Germany as part of reach out to the NRI community ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections. He will also go to the United Kingdom. The Congress leader accused Modi government of not being keen on benefiting all sections from transformation taking place due to urbanisation. “They do not feel that every single person in India should have access to fruits of transformation. They feel that tribal communities, poor farmers, Dalit, should not get the same benefits as the elite of the country gets. We feel everybody took the risk, everybody should get the reward,” Gandhi said.
“The other thing they have done is they have started attacking the support structures that were designed to help certain groups of people,” he added. Gandhi said welfare measures of UPA government such as the right to food and the right to guaranteed employment had been weakened and money going into these schemes “is going into the hands of very few people, the largest corporates in the country.” Gandhi alleged that demonetisation carried out by Modi had taken away lakhs of jobs as it had destroyed cash flow of small and medium businesses.
“China produces 50,000 jobs every 24 hours, India only 450,” Gandhi said, adding that bad implementation of GST had let to closure of thousands of businesses. “These things are what has made people in India angry. That is what you get to read in the newspaper. When you hear about lynchings in India, when you hear about attacks on Dalits in India, when you hear about attacks on minorities in India, that is the reason for it,” Gandhi said. He said the transition that is shaping the world requires certain protection for people.
“That protection is being taken away and India is reacting to that. It is very dangerous in 21st century to exclude people. If you do not give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will which is not going to be good. That is the real risk of excluding large number of people from our development processes,” he said. Gandhi said hate is a dangerous thing in a connected world and it is a choice. “I can fight you, take you on. I can compete with you but hating you is something I have to actively chose to do.” Gandhi said his main complaint with Modi is that India has jobs problem but he does not say it and asked how it will be fixed if it is not even acknowledged.
Gandhi said level of violence is increasing in India and “women were getting a huge share of it.” He called for a change in the attitude of Indian men at the way they treated women. He said non-violence in India was a foundational philosophy of India’s nationhood and noted violence can only be fought by non-violence. Referring to assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi, he said the only way to move forward after violence is forgiveness.
Answering a question on the US and China, Gandhi said India’s role will be to balance like that of Europe. He said India’s actions will be guided by self-interest and noted that it is closer to the US than to China. Referring to Modi coming to power in India and “certain style” of leaders coming to power in the US and some European countries, he said the reason was failure of jobs, particularly to non-white collar persons. “We are outcompeted by Chinese. That is creating a lot of anger,” he said. He also said India was not in a race with China but was wanted to develop according to its values.