Sounding the bugle for the 2019 “Mahabharat”, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the war would be between the “Kauravas” (meaning BJP-RSS) and “Pandavas” (Congress). Mr Gandhi said while the Kauravas were hell-bent on fighting for power, the Congress, just like the Pandavas, would fight for the truth. At the same time, moving away from tradition, the Congress president signalled decentralisation of power in the organisation and indicated to senior leaders that they should brace for some tough organisational changes prior to next year’s general election.
His concluding remarks on the last day of the Congress plenary session moved between hitting out at the ruling party and government and setting the roadmap for the Congress, which would start with “demolishing the wall” between party workers and leaders. Cracking the whip, he also asked the leaders and functionaries to stop all factionalism and indicated the party from now on would ensure “strict discipline”. He said: “Jaghda karna hain toh election ke baad karo. Abhi kadi discipline chalegi (If you want to fight, do so after the elections. Now strict discipline would be implemented)”.
In a tough message to his party, he said there was a need to break the “wall” between ordinary workers and leaders due to which party tickets were given to leaders who “parachute” down and not to workers who have put in 10-15 years of hard work just because they don’t have any money to fight the polls.
Starting his speech amid a rousing reception from party workers, the Congress president said: “The Kauravas are powerful, arrogant, extremely well organised. The Pandavas are a small army. They were just five brothers who had recently lost everything”.
He said just like the Kauravas, the BJP-RSS too just fought for power, and just like Pandavas, the Congress would fight for the truth. The BJP, he said, was the voice of an organisation, while the Congress was the voice of the nation.
In his speech that lasted for nearly an hour, which was relished by both party workers and senior leaders, Mr Gandhi tore apart the government and launched a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi by linking the Modi surname with Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.
“The Modi surname symbolises a nexus with crony capitalism,” the Congress chief said, and went on to also target BJP president Amit Shah, saying: “The BJP can accept a murder accused as their president, (but) the Congress cannot”.
The overarching theme of the Congress chief’s speech was justice for dalits, the minorities and tribals, creation of jobs and addressing farmers’ issues.
However, the biggest takeaway was perhaps his focus on Hinduism, as part of which he defended his temple visits during the campaigning for the Gujarat election. He gave an example of his version of what he called a “Congress priest” and a “BJP priest” to drive home the point on accommodating all religions.
Mr Gandhi also promised to keep the youth as the centre of all his party’s plans. Pointing to the stage, he said the Congress was the only party which had kept the stage empty, to be filled up by youth of the country. The BJP, he added, tried to divert the people’s attention from key issues like unemployment and farm distress with “fancy events”.
“Instead of acknowledging the challenges facing the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi diverts our attention from our problems. We are being told that our problems only exist in our imagination,” he added.
Expressing the hope that India would in the next decade play an all-important role in the global arena, he said: “There are two visions in the world — of the US and China. In 10 years, I want to see India’s vision there.”
He stressed the need for unity and discipline, and said: “Let us put all differences aside and work together to ensure victory for the party.”