Vice president of India’s opposition Congress Party and heir to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty Rahul Gandhi once again lashed out at India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During his recent visit to US, he discussed India’s challenges of internal migration, Hindu nationalist politics and the rising power of China in Asia. “The central difference between the United States and India’s system is that India is composed of 29 states with completely different cultures and languages. In that sense, our diversity is more like Europe’s. If you look at states like Tamil Nadu [in the south] and Mizoram [in the northeast], the differences between them are greater than between any two countries in Europe,” he said on democracy, its challenges and the forces of nationalism and populism.
Rahul wnt on to compare India to China and said the two are going through mass migration from rural areas to mega-cities. “In the Chinese system, that mass movement is controlled. In India, people from all our different cultures, languages and religions are able to move freely to any city in the country,” Rahul added. All the stresses of modernity and migration affect the present tone of politics in India. Economic insecurity about finding work and anxieties over identity are being aggressively exploited by the right-wing. They spread fake news, promote ethnic rifts and foment polarization in order to gain power across states.
“The central fight between the BJP and the Congress Party is about caste,” he started while describing the difference between Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and his Congress Party. “The Congress Party brought the idea of one man, one vote to India. That idea is inimical to the caste tradition. The only way to weaken the caste system is to strengthen the vote. You don’t strengthen the vote by destroying institutions but by empowering the democratic process.”
He voiced disapproval of the ruling BJP and its umbrella organisation like the right-wing Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). “Hatred is their man weapon. They are creating massive fault lines by isolating millions of our people. Tribals, Dalits and Muslims are simply being told by the ruling party that they cannot be part of India’s vision. Journalists are being shot dead.”
While addressing the current conditions of the country, Rahul stated, “[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi came to power by promising jobs, and his record so far has been disastrous. His administration is taking the anger of the youth and diverting it against minorities. That is what most right-wing leaders do ― this bait-and-switch is not dissimilar from what the right-wing are doing all over the world.”
While describing the problems of civil discomfort caused by rising rates of unemployment, Rahul said that the combination of joblessness along with “institutional civil war” is a true crisis for democratic societies. He said that PM Modi and president of the Phillipines Duerte “thrive on hatred and disrespect institutions.”
When asked of his thoughts on China’s Silk Road initiative, he said, “It is a powerful policy from their perspective. It is an attempt at redesigning the world. I don’t see a clear response to it; however, I am not one of those that underestimate their capability to pull it off.”
“Modi has followed the model of the Muslim Brotherhood [in Egypt] to use democracy to come to power. He has filled our institutions with people who propagate a certain divisive ideology and is now imposing a vision of India that excludes India’s Dalits, tribals and minorities. He is a status-quoist pretending to be a reformer,” he concluded.