London School of Economics witnessed an engaging discussion yesterday when Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed an audience of students and academics on diverse issues relating to Indian political and economic situation. Ranging from conversations around dynastic politics, reforming the Congress party, uplifting the marginalised and the affront on institutional structures and values, the interactions between the Congress President and the students were frank and open and provided crucial insights into his vision for the country.
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Discussions with the audience threw up a wide range of issues, which Mr. Gandhi spoke about in detail. Here are few of the important points he raised during the interaction:
On dynastic politics: “The important thing is I operate in a democracy. I have been attacked. I have learned and you can see what I bring to the table.” Mr. Gandhi highlighted the fact that he has been democratically elected thrice and continues to operate within a democratic space where he has faced attacks and criticisms and has continuously learnt from the process. Finally, stressing that it was his love for the country which made him join politics, he said that the work he has done for 15 years and his interactions with the people has evolved his perspectives and made him into the leader he is today.
On secularism and social justice: “Development has taken place through the sacrifice of all Indians. Their benefit too must go to all Indians.” Sharing his vision on both, Mr. Gandhi pointed out that social justice should secure the rights of the last man in the line while secularism should ensure that the country embraces people from different backgrounds as equals. He also criticised the current government’s approach towards marginalised communities and indicated that there has been an attempt to attack the basic foundation and values of our constitution. He however added that he is certain the idea of India will prevail.
On corruption: When questioned on corruption, Mr. Gandhi spoke about the RTI Act and decentralisation, both of which the UPA government had introduced and he labelled it as the strongest weapons to combat corruption. But he added that the current government has been systematically attempting to dilute the Act and increasingly trying to centralise power. Giving another example of corruption within this government, he brought up the much-debated Rafale deal and explained how an arbitrarily and non-transparently carried out deal could be disastrous for Indian defence.
On the Congress party’s vision: “What we are defending is the onslaught on the Indian Constitution. the entire opposition and I have agreed, that our first priority is to stop the poison being spread.” When asked about his assessment of Congress, he stated that the goal of the party will be to defeat the BJP in the upcoming elections to stop the attack on institutional structures by fighting with other opposition parties on a common platform. He also believes that the idea of non-violence needs to be better disseminated which will take place by reaching out to the people.
Through his recent series of interactions, Mr. Gandhi has not only explained in detail his vision for the party and the country but has also proven that he is open to transparent interactions, suggestions and criticism. His upcoming speeches in London today promise to be as informative and engrossing.