Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday attacked the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, saying that it’s being run by just three people — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and RSS head Mohan Bhagwat — who treat the country as their fiefdom and ignore people’s aspirations.
Addressing the Congress’ first ever Other Backward Classes (OBC) convention in New Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium, Mr Gandhi spoke confidently of the entire Opposition uniting soon against the BJP and its troika to show them that India, as a democracy, will be run by its people.
“The country has become slave to two-three people of the BJP and the RSS,” Mr Gandhi said, “(But) No one can stop the entire Opposition from getting together in six-seven months to a year — whether it is Congress or the Janata Dal, you will see the entire Opposition standing together and Narendra Modi, Amit Shah or Mohan Bhagwat ji will see the strength of India… They will know that India cannot be run by two or three people,” Mr Gandhi said..
Promising to uplift the oppressed classes, the Congress chief also attacked the Modi government over lack of opportunities to those who are talented and skilled, saying doors of banks and of politics are shut to OBCs in India.
Accusing the RSS of dividing people and not allowing them any opportunity to prosper, he said, “Their attempt is to divide the entire OBC section in the society so that they are unable to put forth their demands and get finished.”
He alleged that everyone, including BJP MPs, were afraid to speak out as they were not allowed to talk and it was “only the RSS that is heard”.
The BJP hit back at the Congress president calling his allegations against the Modi government as “vote bank politics” aimed at “hoodwinking” the OBC community for their votes.
BJP’s OBC face and Union minister Ram Kripal Yadav said that while Mr Gandhi seemed concerned about the condition of the OBCs, he should let the community know what the Congress governments did for decades for them.
The Congress president promised to promote people who work hard behind the scene but the fruits of their toil are enjoyed by others.
Buttressing his claim about the emerging socioeconomic gap, Mr Gandhi said, “Everyone must have heard about the Coca-Cola company. Who started this company? Who was he, does anyone know? I will tell you who he was. The person who started the Coca-Cola company was one who sold ‘shikanji’ (lemonade). He used to sell ‘shikanji’ in America. He used to mix sugar in water. His experience and talent was honoured and he got money and started the Coca-Cola company.”
Mr Gandhi added, “You must have heard about McDonald’s company, which is seen everywhere. Who started it and what did he do? He used to run a ‘dhaba’ (roadside restaurant). You show me a ‘dhabawalla’ in India who has created a company like Coca-Cola. Where is it?”
Attacking the Modi government, Mr Gandhi said, “It’s not that we don’t have talent, knowledge, power, ability… but we don’t have banks willing to help, offer loans. The government isn’t supportive.”
Mr Gandhi also said the founders of auto giants Ford, Mercedes and Honda were “mechanics” whose skills were recognised by the meritocratic system in their countries and allowed them to prosper.
Coca-Cola was founded by American pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886 when he prepared the famous soda-fountain beverage. McDonald’s was set up in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald. The couple first opened a hot dog stand in 1937 in California.
Mr Gandhi used the anecdotes to target the ruling BJP and Mr Modi, accusing them of benefiting a handful of industrialists. “The BJP’s strategy is clear… 15-20 rich capitalists will give thousands of crores to PM Modi and all benefits will go to just those 15-20 rich people,” he said.
Mr Gandhi accused the Modi government of promoting a small group of industrialists by waiving loans amounting to nearly `2.5 lakh crore and ignoring the legitimate demands of farmers, backwards and other small businesses.
The Congress chief was trolled by his critics for his Coca-Cola-shikanji story and the BJP also hit back at him.