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Granny’s story retold

If he does,then the Congress has much bigger problems to contend with than the advent of the challenger from Gujarat.

Written by Tavleen Singh |
September 22, 2013 12:52:45 am

If he does,then the Congress has much bigger problems to contend with than the advent of the challenger from Gujarat.

Rahul Gandhi last week made the most curious and significant speech he has ever made. Curious because it was so very economically confused and politically naïve,and significant because it appears that his advisors and speechwriters have noticed finally that it is the economy and not secularism that is going to be the main issue in the next general election. Sadly,Rahul’s speech did not get the attention or analysis it deserved or it would have helped us understand why a country that should be among the richest in the world counts among the poorest. Thanks to Narendra Modi having articulated a clear economic worldview,Congress think tanks have worked hard to come up with an economic vision for Rahul. This was what he unveiled in his inimitable boyish style in Baran,Rajasthan.

He began by admitting that there were two ways to look at ‘development’. We want development too,he said emphatically,but we want people to have food in their stomachs and jobs first. They (read Modi) want people to remain hungry and jobless. Really? We want farmers and workers to dream big but they want them to remain poor and not dream of aeroplanes and shiny cars. “This is why I am standing here.” In other words: I,Rahul Gandhi,I,I,Me,Me,I am the new messiah of the poor just like my dadi once was. Remember that old,forgotten slogan from long,long ago? ‘Voh

kehtey hain Indira Hatao,main kehti hoon Garibi Hatao (They say get rid of Indira,I say get rid of Poverty)’.

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That this mission to rid India of poverty failed is something her grandson has noticed. But what appears to have escaped him is that the reason why there is still hideous,grim,shameful poverty in India is because of bad economic policies. Not for reasons of ‘sickness’,as he said in his speech. Although he should ask himself why public healthcare is so sick in India that the poorest Indians are forced to use private services. That is only one of the questions that Rahul has not asked.

He should ask himself why after more than 50 years of rule by one member or other of his family,India remains so poor that his Mummy believes 70 per cent of the population needs the legal right to cheap food grain. He should ask himself why after 10 years of rule by his Mummy,the poor remain as poor as they ever were despite her having bestowed upon them the right to jobs,education,land and food. If he asks himself these questions he may begin to see that the economic policies followed by his family and forced upon the Congress party have failed miserably.

His confusion about these things is so serious that in his speech he blamed everything on “them”. ‘They stopped Parliament’,‘they tried to stop us from giving you food security’,‘they tried to say there was not enough money to guarantee jobs in rural India’,‘they stopped us from giving you panchayati raj’. What he did not ask himself at any point,certainly what his speechwriters did not ask,is how “they” could be blamed for so many bad things when “they” had happily helped pass every regressive,deleterious,dangerous new economic policy proposed by his mother’s government in the past decade.

One way or another,we now know for certain that Rahul does indeed have an economic vision for India and that it is exactly the same one his grandmother had. Analyse his speech carefully—it is available on YouTube—and you will see that he believes fundamentally in a paternalistic state that will hand out dole in various forms to the poor as long as they agree to remain poor. He appears to also believe that the average,wretchedly poor Indian is too stupid to notice when he is being told lies. The Congress’s young prince told a lot of lies in his speech. The most obvious was that “they” believe that only a handful of rich Indians should enjoy the fruits of prosperity (cars and aeroplanes) and that the majority of ordinary Indians should be kept away from dreaming of such things. Does he seriously believe that people will buy this nonsense? Does he seriously believe that people will be fooled into thinking that only he and his Congress party can save them?

If he does,then the Congress has much bigger problems to contend with than the advent of the challenger from Gujarat. Even without Narendra Modi they would have little chance of winning in 2014 with a leader who has an economic vision that failed across the Communist world two decades ago. Even in Cuba,the last bastion,there are stirrings of change,but Rahul seems not to have been told this.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @tavleen_singh

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