May 16, 2022 4:00:40 am
Having suffered staggering election defeats since 2014 under his leadership and that of his mother Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi on Sunday admitted that the Congress’s “connection” with the people is “broken”, and needs to be repaired urgently.
To reestablish that connection, Sonia announced the party will undertake a Bharat yatra from October 2 this year. The party also announced a series of organisational reforms at the end of its three-day chintan shivir here to bring new and young faces into leadership roles.
As curtains came down on the brainstorming session, there were indications that Rahul is likely to return as Congress president later this year. While Sonia delivered a short speech, Rahul spoke at length.
The former Congress president attacked the BJP government at the Centre, accusing it of spreading hatred, pressuring the judiciary, arm-twisting the Election Commission, destroying institutions, and muzzling the media.
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But his focus was more on preparing the party to “go back to the people”; he told the chintan shivir there were no “shortcuts” to revival.
The party will have to accept that its “connection” with the people has been snapped, and it should work towards reestablishing that connection, Rahul said. The entire focus of the Congress currently is on “internal matters” such as who is getting what post, he said, and asked the leaders to turn their attention towards the people.
“It is a complaint. Our entire discussion, our conversation…is about our internal matters…who is getting which post. Internally that is our focus. In today’s time this internal focus will not work. Our focus should be external. We will have to turn our gaze to the people and we will have to go to the people. Not just for us…for the country… Be it our senior leaders, junior leaders, or workers, we should go to the people and sit with them without thinking about anything…,” Rahul said.
“Their (the people’s) issues…we should understand. And the connection that we used to have with the people…jo Congress party ka connection janta se toota hai usko hame accept karna padega… We will have to reestablish that connection…the people want that… They understand that only the Congress can take the country forward….”
The party will take out a yatra in October to strengthen the connection with the people, Rahul said.
“That is the only way… Shortcuts will not help. It cannot be done through any shortcuts. It can only happen by shedding sweat. We can do it. You can do it. We have the ability and that is our DNA. This organisation has come out of the people and we will have to go to the people again,” he said.
Sonia announced a “national Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra beginning on Gandhi Jayanti this year”. “All of us will participate in it,” she said. “The Yatra is to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that are under stress, to preserve the foundational values of our Constitution that are under assault and to highlight the day-to-day concerns of crores of our people.”
Action remains to be seen
Admission of a “broken connection” and announcement of a Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir Yatra is acknowledgment of the need to go back to the people. But as always, the question of implementation remains.
Concluding her short address, Sonia said the party would surely overcome the challenges it faces. “We will overcome. We will overcome. We will overcome. That is our determination. That is our nav sankalp (new resolve). The Congress will have a new uday (rise). That is our nav sankalp,” she said.
Rahul said his fight was against the ideology of the RSS-BJP and the “hatred and violence that they spread”.
“For me it is the fight for my life… I cannot accept that hatred, violence and anger can be spread in our dear nation. We are up against some big forces. RSS and the BJP organisation, all the institutions… Don’t think we are fighting against a political party. We are not fighting against a political party…the political party is just a part. We are fighting against every institution of India. We are fighting against the biggest crony capitalists… That is the fact,” he said.
He was not afraid, Rahul said. “I am not scared of these forces. I don’t care. I have not done corruption in my entire life. I haven’t taken a single penny from Bharat mata. I am not scared of speaking the truth… Together we will defeat the BJP and the RSS organisation and their ideology,” he said.
Some senior leaders and workers of the party sometimes feel depressed, Rahul said. “It is normal. The fight is not easy. Don’t think the fight is easy.”
Regional parties cannot take on the RSS-BJP, he said, “because this is a battle of ideologies”. “You have seen the ideology of the RSS is fighting against the ideology of the Congress. BJP will talk about the Congress, its leaders and workers but will not talk about regional parties. Because they know that regional parties have a space but they cannot defeat the BJP. Because they don’t have an ideology. They have different approaches. We have a centralized approach. And our fight is about ideology.”
“This is not a political fight. This is a fight for the future of the country and to save the country… It is our responsibility to go to the people and say you are being divided…and the country will be weakened because of that. No one will benefit. The country will suffer because of that,” he said.
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