AN “INTERNAL” and “generational fight” in the Congress, a collision between the “older vision” and a “newer vision” in the party, as well as “issues with corruption” contributed to the Congress’ defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, party president Rahul Gandhi said during an interaction in Singapore.
Rahul, in fact, picked up from where he left off at an interaction with students at the University of California, Berkeley in September last year. He had then admitted that a “certain amount of arrogance” had crept into the Congress midway through UPA-II and it had stopped “conversations with people”.
During an interaction with IIM alumni in Singapore on Friday, Rahul was asked what happened from 2010-11, during UPA’s second stint in office, after a great ride from 2004 to 2009.
“We had a perfect storm. Oil price (at) 140. Internal fight in the Congress party. Generational fight in the Congress party. An older vision, a newer vision and those just went and collided. So we are fighting an election, we have had this internal conflict going on. We had issues with corruption. And that just came together,” Rahul replied.
Asked how he planned to revive and rejuvenate the party, he said: “The party is basically an idea, it is basically an ideology and when you move away from the ideology, the party weakens. It is pretty straightforward. So, the Congress party has to stand up to certain ideas. The Congress party has a tremendous history, and when the Congress party doesn’t stand up to that history, people get confused. And people start to ask the question, are you really that institution.”
“Periodically, like all organisations, we sort of make mistakes and we have done our share of that… The first thing is to set a few rules. And say listen, these five or six things, if you are in the Congress party, they are non-negotiable. We just will not tolerate this stuff,” he said.
Saying that the “Congress party has become very inward looking”, Rahul said “there is a process of opening the door, inviting new people in”. He said the party is a heritage of India and is an institution which can still serve the country.
Targeting the BJP, Rahul said it was silent on allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal and the charges against BJP president Amit Shah’s son. He said the Congress, on the other hand, had fired people when corruption charges were levelled against them, and argued that the Right to Information, in fact, had hit the party.
“Today, you have the Rafale deal, you have Amit Shah’s son, you have Gujarat petroleum, but the strategy of the BJP is not to answer. It is happening, but just not answer. We did the RTI and completely transformed the basic structure. We created transparency throughout the system and frankly that hit us. Because we dramatically increased the amount of transparency. Our position was that whenever we found out, we fired the guy. Pretty much (in) every single case, we fired the guy,” he said.
Warning against divisive politics, Rahul said: “Unfortunately, and this is something that is seen all over the world, today dividing people gives you political benefits. But then it has costs. The costs are not visible today but the costs will become visible. And they are actually huge costs, dangerous costs. You are weakening the country by doing that. So we will fight it.”