IN A scathing criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has drawn a parallel between him and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, saying they “thrive on hatred and disrespect institutions”. He said Modi has followed the model of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to “use democracy to come to power”.
In an interview to Nicolas Berggruen, chairman of the Berggruen Institute and publisher of The WorldPost, which was carried by The Huffington Post, Rahul also spoke about over-concentration of power, and argued that India today is more centralised than China.
Saying that the challenge India is facing today is creating jobs in cities and supporting agriculture in rural areas, he said, “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 polarisation in order to gain power across states. They divide communities using hatred and turn them against each other to come to power,” he said.
Modi, he said, 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,” he said.
Rahul said India, America and Europe are facing a combination of joblessness, along with “institutional civil war”, and argued that it is a “true crisis for all democratic societies”. “It is this combination of circumstances that has created the space for leaders like Modi and (Philippine President Rodrigo) Duterte who thrive on hatred and disrespect institutions,” he said.
“Almost all important decisions in India today are taken at the Prime Minister’s level… Meanwhile, the Parliament in India is currently being reduced to a debating society without any power… Actually, I would argue that India today is more centralised than China. The Communist Party centralises certain aspects. But if you look at Chinese cities, local governments have a lot of power. Even if one was to follow your argument and centralise India even more, the type of reaction you would get — and it is already coming — would be very dangerous,” he said, responding to a question on whether there should be more power at the top to push through policies that might be blocked locally.
Rahul also accused Modi of strengthening and defending India’s caste structure. “That is his entire design. 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 said.