In a day-long Jan Vedna Convention organized along the lines of an AICC meeting, Congress president Sonia Gandhi remained absent to leave the floor open for her son Rahul Gandhi to be showcased as a Congress leader and future party president as he presided over the Congress meet. Once again, she has sought to project him through the back door, in what is being seen as a bid to garner acceptability for him as the leader of the party. He has in the recent past presided over the CWC, the general body of the Congress Party in Parliament and now a day-long Congress meet called to take pot shots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his demonetisation move.
As is the practice during AICC sessions, Rahul Gandhi first took the salute with a battery of senior leaders lined up behind him, he spoke in the morning when he made his opening remarks and spoke in a conclusion speech where he took on Modi, his government, made fun of him and said Acche Din will only come when the Congress returns to power at the Centre.
Having just returned from his holiday abroad, Rahul was relaxed, had shaved, and delivered his two speeches with a great deal more confidence and established a connect with the over 5000 party delegates who had come to Delhi from all over the country. He was more at ease, than he had ever been before and cracked jokes against the Prime Minister at every turn.
Speaker after speaker from Ahmed Patel, to P. Chidambaram to Dr Manmohan Singh to Anand Sharma and a host of others including PCC presidents, DCC and BCC office bearers, former MPs and MLAs spent the day in heaping abuses on Modi and his cabinet and his government.
When Rahul used the word “Mitron” to mock Narendra Modi the crowd in Talkatora Stadium cheered as they did when he abused Modi for snatching money from the poor to fill the pockets of the rich. Rahul also made a number of pointed references to the media for supporting Modi saying he understood why they were doing it, as there was pressure on the media from the Prime Minister. He said that Modi was dreaming when he said he wanted to make India a cashless economy. Addressing the gathering he said, Achhe Din will only come when the Congress returns to power. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said the worst is yet to come and the country will face a tough situation in the days and weeks ahead.
Rahul Gandhi while speaking said, “Congress workers must go to villages and tell people how BJP and RSS are destroying the country by spreading fear and hatred, he said, adding, “BJP thinks that they can rule this country with fear and hatred... but we will defeat and remove them.”
“We will defeat their ideas and philosophy,” he said.
Implying some people were in the know of the demonetisation move, Rahul said: “Bengal BJP was depositing money in banks before PM’s demonetisation speech... BJP was investing in properties across the country before demonetisation.”
Rahul also highlighted corruption that came to light during the 50-day period sought by PM to end the cash crunch. “How many corrupt were spotted in the ATM lines? They were all using back doors to access banks,” he said.
For Congressmen, who had come from far and near at the bidding of the party, it was a pleasant surprise to see a Rahul Gandhi talking sense for most of his speech rather than the Congress leader who is almost always made fun of and who is not able to give a coherent speech at the best of times. But for the most part, the day long convention called to attack the BJP and Narendra Modi ran true to type with the party leaders relying on tried and tested leaders and those holding important positions to make speeches rather than giving an opportunity to those who had come from far and who would articulate their experiences from the ground whether they be women, adivasis, farmers, mazdoors or others. Congress once again failed to carry out an experiment in inclusive politics, afraid as it has always been in giving a chance to new comers to open their account.
Congress hopes this convention will help them in the upcoming 5 state assemblies to spread the message against Narendra Modi and his anti-poor policies to the people as the party prepares to fight the elections.