Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi describes his party’s alliance with the Samajwadi Party for the ongoing Uttar Pradesh Assembly election as a pragmatic decision to put together a “younger alternative” for the State.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Gandhi was clear the alliance was not a signal that the Congress or the SP had given up on trying to strengthen their individual positions in the State. He accused the RSS and the BJP of undermining the country’s institutions such as the RBI and the now-renamed Planning Commission by filling them with people who share their ideology.
‘Opposition not weak’
Denying that the Opposition to the Modi government had been weak, he claimed that the BJP would be defeated in the next election.
“What I am pointing to is Mr. Narendra Modi’s inability to carry anybody with him, to his way of decision-making, his unilateral way of operating, not even taking senior members of his Cabinet along — they don’t feel part of a team. One man can’t run this country.”
Mr. Gandhi rejected the idea that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was a threat to the Congress. “The AAP operates very much like the BJP. One man decides everything and there is no conversation, there is no listening to anybody,” he said.
‘Note ban will hit BJP’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetise ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes would hit the BJP “very badly” in poll-bound States, he felt. “It’s a devastating step for anybody who is part of the cash economy.”
“This government just decides things, and asks the RBI to sign off. If you don’t want to sign off on these decisions, leave, we will put someone else in your place, who won’t have that problem,” the Congress leader said. He claimed that demonetisation was a panic decision by the Prime Minister, who had been painted into a corner by the Opposition. However, demonetisation had put him in an even worse corner.
‘Not just buildings’
“I think this is an RSS-Narendra Modi-run government,” Mr. Gandhi stated, arguing that the Planning Commission and the RBI were not just buildings, but housed years of Indian knowledge and experience of dealing with issues. Demonetisation had also handed massive powers to the Income-Tax department and as many as one million tax notices had been issued in Uttar Pradesh alone, he said.
“So, even the idea of ease of doing business has been destroyed. You have unleashed the Income-Tax department on ordinary citizens,” Mr. Gandhi argued.