Mathura: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday accused the BJP-led government of toeing the RSS ideology, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity was dipping fast.
Admitting that the Congress was the “number chaar ki party in UP” (fourth position party in Uttar Pradesh), Gandhi told a gathering of party leaders that the Congress needed to catch up in Uttar Pradesh.
“This is Congress, not RSS, or else if Mohan Bhagwat would have said the sky is pitch black, others would have agreed,” he said to laughter.
Gandhi said the Congress was not like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent, where one man at the top says one thing and everyone says ‘yes’.
In his first interaction with party activists after the 2014 Lok Sabha debacle, Gandhi underlined the party’s ethos and ideology.
Power, he said, should not be concentrated in select hands.
Gandhi slammed Modi, saying he had forgotten all the promises he made to the people during the Lok Sabha battle.
Saying he heard negative views about Modi everywhere, the Congress leader said the popularity graph of the prime minister was falling rapidly.
Taking a dig, he said Modi was himself doing the job of the opposition brilliantly. “Even we together cannot do the kind of harm he is doing to his image.”
Modi, he went on, had harmed himself by not fulfilling his election promises.
Farmers he met in various parts of the country were abusing Modi, he said.
“(Modi) told farmers he will increase the MSP (minimum support price) of crops) and good days will come.
“But farmers are committing suicide in every state. And they are not just criticising him, they are abusing him.”
Gandhi, one of the only two Congress MPs from Uttar Pradesh, asked why Modi had not kept his promise of recovering black money stashed abroad and giving Rs.15 lakh out of it to each Indian.
“Rs.15 lakh was to come into the account of every Indian. No one has got it,” he said.
“The harm Modiji is doing to himself, even we cannot do it together… Modiji will go down,” Gandhi said.
He said the Congress was the fourth party in Uttar Pradesh as far as the number of legislators was concerned but it was the “number one party” in terms of ideology.
He said the Congress was focusing on capturing power in the state in the 2017 elections.
“We lost the elections last time because we failed to engage the people in a dialogue… We cannot be held back, we have to re-connect with people.”
Gandhi said he had two homes — one in Jammu and Kashmir and one in Allahabad.
“UP is important for the Congress. If we do well here, the Congress will be again on top everywhere.”
The Congress leader said the party needed to change with changing times.
“Earlier I thought the Congress was like an army. You change the commander if he makes a mistake.
“Now I believe the Congress is like a family where members can have differences of opinion but they all remain united.
“If right people are given the opportunity to lead, there is no reason why we cannot be in power in UP in 2017.”
The Congress needed to be reinvented and rebuilt in the Hindi heartland and for this the party has to work hard and stay united, he added.
Among those who attended the meeting were prominent state leaders and district presidents including Mohsina Kidwai, Rashid Alvi, Raj Babbar, Anil Shastri, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Nirmal Khatri.