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Saturday, April 17, 2021

‘No democracy without strong institutions, even Saddam, Gaddafi allowed voting’: Rahul Gandhi

On a question about the farm laws, Gandhi said while he agreed the farm sector needs reform, the reform should empower the producer. “The laws the BJP has brought are an assault on the producer,” Gandhi said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 18, 2021 1:44:07 am
rahul gandhi, Ashutosh Varshney, rahul gandhi on democracy india, rahul gandhi on farm laws, rahul gandhi RSS, indian expressRahul Gandhi in an online interaction with Ashutosh Varshney, Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University, USA. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said a politician needs institutional support to get his message heard in a democracy, something the Opposition is being denied in India today. He also said if one political party is able to capture all institutions, elections will become meaningless.

“The BJP and the RSS are destroying the framework of all institutions that hold up a democracy, including the media and the judiciary. Think of the airtime the media gives to the Prime Minister and to any opposition leader. The basic function of Parliament is to hear out its representatives. But when I get up to speak in Parliament, my mic is switched off,” Gandhi said, in an online interaction conducted by Ashutosh Varshney, Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University, USA.

The Congress leader said he would love to hold similar interactions with Indian colleges, but “I am not allowed to. They start pressurising the Vice-Chancellor.”

Gandhi also said that a diverse country like India needs “active, dynamic and constant negotiation” among that diversity, which the BJP-RSS is supressing. “There is no conversation in Parliament either. BJP MPs are told what to speak. One leader once told PM Modi he did not agree with him, and the PM threw him out,” Gandhi said.

Asked to comment on recent reports by international watchdogs saying democracy in India is weakening, Gandhi said, “We don’t need stamps from them, but yes, democracy is weakening. In fact, they are way behind the curve. The situation in India is far worse than they, or sections within our country, imagine. Democracy is ineffective without its supporting frameworks. Even Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein allowed voting.”

Gandhi said there is “total domination” by the BJP on not just money power, the media and the judiciary, but also social media. “Everyone knows the head of Facebook in India is a BJP person. One girl left Congress and went to work for Facebook. She had a job contract. But when they found out she had worked for Congress, they said you can’t come. She cried at my door,” Gandhi said.

On a question about the farm laws, Gandhi said while he agreed the farm sector needs reform, the reform needs to be based on conversations with all stakeholders, and should be focused on empowering the producer. “The laws the BJP has brought are an assault on the producer,” Gandhi said.

On a question about what Mahatma Gandhi’s path meant to him, the Congress leader said the ‘shoonyata’ that Bapu brought in, of decentralising the self in a situation, was missing today.

On the Congress lacking workers on the ground, Gandhi said, “We were never a cadre-based party like the RSS. We are a party based on people bringing about and managing conversations, driven by ideology.”

On frequent demands being made about the need for the Gandhis to make room for someone else at the helm of the Congress, Rahul said, “No one from my family has been PM since 1989. I am happy to push other leaders, make them successful. My role in Congress is to defend a particular ideological current. I will not stop defending that ideological position because someone says I am someone’s son.”

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