Rahul calls Modi and BJP Kauravas, 2019 polls Mahabharata; 10 highlights

Congress President Rahul Gandhi speaks during the second day of the 84th Plenary Session of Indian National Congress (INC), at the Indira Gandhi stadium in New Delhi on Sunday
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ‘corrupt ways’ and said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be no less than the epic battle of Mahabharata between the “power-hungry” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the “humble” Congress. 

In his 50-minute speech at the Congress’ 84th plenary session, Rahul Gandhi pledged to break the twin walls between party leaders and workers to revitalise the 133-year-old Congress, and said the 2019 general elections would be a fight between “truth and lies.” He compared BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to ‘Pandavas” who “lost everything but fought for truth.”

In his concluding address at the party's 84th plenary session, Rahul Gandhi went all out at the BJP, terming its president Amit Shah as "a man accused of murder" and accusing RSS of trying to control institutions including judiciary, parliament and police.

The party adopted resolutions on the economic situation and foreign policy on the concluding day of the three-day session and authorised Rahul Gandhi to nominate members of the Congress Working Committee.

Blowing the bugle for the elections next year, Congress had yesterday talked of forging workable alliances with like-minded parties as part of efforts to get battle-ready for polls, with Rahul Gandhi asserting that the country was "fatigued" and only his party could show the way forward.

To woo farmers, Rahul Gandhi said that if voted to power, Congress would come out with a loan-waiver scheme for small and marginal agriculturists similar to that announced by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2009.

Rahul Gandhi, who got rapturous applause from the assembled gathering at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, packed his address with a lot of punches at Narendra Modi, the BJP and RSS.

Here are the top 10 developments of Rahul Gandhi’s latest speech at Congress plenary session: 

1. BJP, like Kauravas, drunk on power:  Drawing an analogy with the Mahabharata, Rahul Gandhi said the battle of Kurukshetra was for India's future and the same question was being asked today.

"Centuries ago, there was a huge battle on the field of Pandavas, the Congress is designed to fight for truth," he said.

2. ‘Modi symbolises capitalism’: Mounting a blistering personal attack on Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi accused the latter of symbolising crony capitalism, and said the country's poor continue to live in " din' (good days).

"If you are poor, your only choice is to become a farmer or labourer. You are destined to live in ' din' (good days), Swachh Bharat, Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) in your bank account," he said, adding that yet the people have accepted the “lying” "BJP leadership which is "drunk with power".

He also attacked the government's Make In India policy, it's foreign policy and security doctrine.

"If you are rich you will make billions selling Chinese products to our hard-working people. You shall steal Rs 33,000 crore (Rs 330 billion) from the banks and the BJP government will protect you. The FM (Finance Minister) will go silent because he and his daughter work for crony capitalist," Gandhi alleged.

3. ‘Modi hoodwinking people with poll promises’: Accusing the Prime Minister of deceiving people with his promises terming, Rahul Gandhi charged Modi of trying to divert attention of people and "jumping from one event to another, surgical strikes to demonetisation, from Gabbar Singh Tax (mockery of GST) to a fancy yoga parade in front of Parliament".

Rahul Gandhi promised to create jobs for the youth and, referring to the Rs 700 billion (Rs 70,000 crore) farm loan waiver by the UPA government, said the party would be prepared to help farmers in a similar way if needed.

4. 'BJP accepts murderers’: Attacking Amit Shah without naming him, Rahul Gandhi said: "They (the people) will accept a man accused of murder as the President of BJP. But the people will never accept the same in the Congress party as they expect higher standards."

Gandhi said the Congress would never accept a murderer as its chief, saying the difference between BJP and Congress was that whole “BJP is the voice of an organisation” (referring to RSS), the “Congress is the voice of the nation.”

5. Rahul likens Narendra Modi to Nirav Modi: Rahul Gandhi also sought to take sheen off Narendra Modi particularly on the issue of corruption by referring to former Indian Premier League(IPL) chairman Lalit Modi, who is being investigated in an IPL money laundering case and diamontaire Nirav Modi, who is a absconding after defrauding Punjab National Bank of nearly Rs 136 billion (Rs 13,600 crore).

"Nirav Modi, who carried out India's biggest theft has the same name as our PM. It's an interesting fact that there is more. The most corrupt man in cricket also shares the same name with the PM. So what does Modi actually mean? The name Modi symbolises the collusion between the India's biggest crony capitalists and the PM of India," he said.

“ModiIndian Express. 

The name Modi symbolises the collusion between India’s biggest businessmen and the Prime Minister. Modi gives Modi 30,000 crores of your Money and in turn, Modi gives Modi money for marketing Modi and fighting elections. #CongressPlenary #ChangeIsNow pic.twitter.com/T4ovQKrxnL

— Congress (@INCIndia) March 18, 2018

6. Rahul slams GST citing World Bank report: Rahul Gandhi said 'terror' of the GST was now "globally acclaimed" and cited a World Bank report. The Congress president also tagged with his tweet a media report that quoted the World Bank report as saying that the goods and services tax (GST) implemented by the government from July 1 last year was one of the most complex, with the second-highest tax rate in the world among 115 countries with similar indirect tax systems.

Modi ji, the terror of Gabbar Singh Tax is now globally acclaimed.

The World Bank says it’s the 2nd HIGHEST in the WORLD and one of the MOST complex. #ModiTalksNoCanDohttps://t.co/mUBv3EdEBK

— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 18, 2018

Reacting to Gandhi's remarks, Information and Broadcasting Minister Irani tweeted, "Rahul Gandhi's hatred for India is astonishing. When World Bank hailed India's rise in Ease of Doing Business rankings, he rubbished the report. Now (he) selectively quotes WB report to berate India's progress!"

Rahul Gandhi’s hatred for India is astonishing. When World Bank hailed India’s rise in Ease of Doing Business rankings, he rubbished the report. Now selectively quotes WB report to berate India’s progress! https://t.co/cU7wzaoiTC

— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 18, 2018

Aadarniya @RahulGandhi ji, if you are free from the world’s longest coronation exercise, I request you to read this article and enlighten yourself. https://t.co/amMxPIDSV9

— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 18, 2018

7. BJP, RSS playing on the religious sentiments of people:  Referring to BJP raking up his the issue of his temple visits during Gujarat elections, Rahul Gandhi said he had been going to temples and also visits gurdwaras, churches and mosques.
"You must be noting a change in Modiji's face. He does not wear suits now and must be thinking that Gujarat was barely won and he may get stuck in 2019. Congress has to fight fearlessly... Congress workers will show in 2019 how the party fights an election and wins it," he said.

He accused RSS of telling Muslims that "you don't belong to here", Tamils to "change your beautiful language", people from the northeast that "we don't like what you eat" and women to"dress properly or will thrash you".

He said people go the courts for justice and he had seen it for the first time that judges went to people for justice.

8. Other Congress members also attack PM Modi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his remarks, accused Modi of resorting to further '' by promising to double farmers' income and charged his government of messing up the Indian economy.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who moved the resolution on the economic situation, accused the government of not generating jobs and damaging existing employment through demonetisation and flawed implementation of goods and services tax and said only the Congress can bring the country out of the present "crisis".

"The current phase of economic growth started in 1990s when Rajiv Gandhi sowed seeds of liberalisation. This gained momentum under Dr Manmohan Singh. Whatever the BJP, the NDA may say, records speak for itself," said former finance minister P Chidambaram.

Chidambaram also lashed out at RBI officials: "I would like to tell the RBI officials why don't you go to Hundi collectors in Tirupati? They count money faster than you",  he added in a reference to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

Sonia Gandhi says arrogant Modi govt ruined UPA schemes:

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that his pre-poll promises of combating corruption and ensuring inclusive development were "only dramebazi' and a trick to grab power.

Gandhi, in her address at the 84th Congress Plenary Session, gave a clarion call to the partymen to be ready for any kind of sacrifice to strengthen the party and to make the county free from discrimination, vendetta politics and arrogance.

She called upon them to forcefully fight against the challenges posed by the present dispensation and asked them to mount a struggle to free the country from the fear of power.

"The slogans of 'dramebazi (drama) and a trick to grab power," she said, referring to Modi's promises of inclusive development and corruption-free governance.

9. Rahul admits to the failures of UPA govt: Admitting the "failures" of the UPA government, he said in the last few years of the dispensation, "we didn't stand up to people's expectation and they felt let down by us".

Extending an olive branch to the workers and the youth, he said there was a need to change the organisation as workers have energy and strength to change the country, but there is a wall between them and leaders.

"My first job will be to break that wall...not with anger, but with love, giving respect to our senior leaders," he said, amid a thunderous cheering from the gallery.

"The second wall, perhaps the bigger, we can't break until we break the first. The second wall is between the country's youth and political system," he said.

He said while one worker bags a party ticket using a "parachute", another is denied it not even after he has given his blood and sweat to the organisation. This has to change, he said.

"To every youngster in India, we are your instrument. The Congress party belong to you. We want to open our doors to your talent your bravery and your energy. This country is struggling and it needs you," he said.

10. BJP hits back at Congress: BJP slammed the speeches of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi as "stale rhetoric" which has been "rejected repeatedly" by the people. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took Rahul head on and said, "It (Rahul's speech) sounds like a rhetoric of a loser devoid of substance.

Sithraman continued by adding, "Congress Party wants to identify itself with the Pandavas, The same party which questioned the fundamental existence of Lord Ram. It is the party which chooses to mock Hindus and Hindu rituals."

BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said the Congress is incapable of mounting a political challenge against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said Modi has helped BJP expand its reach with "his positive, people-centric transformational politics".

"What Congress leaders like Rahul and Sonia spoke at the plenary today is the same old stale rhetoric which people of the country have rejected repeatedly," he said in a statement.

"It seems the Congress does not learn lessons and does not adapt itself to the emerging political challenges," he said.



Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel