BENGALURU: Rahul Gandhi, who addressed two party functions here on Monday, exhibited rare confidence and coming-of-age that seemed to herald his imminent takeover as Congress president. With a year to go for state assembly polls, the Congress vice-president underscored two points that raised the hopes of the party cadre: There would no longer be any helidropping of tickets this polls, and that Karnataka would set the stage for revival of the party’s fortunes across the nation.
At the release of the commemorative publication of the National Herald, Rahul launched a scathing attack on the NDA government, citing muzzling of freedom of expression under the Modi regime.
“Don’t be silent,” he said, as he charged the government with trying to stifle Dalits, bureaucrats and media. His address at the KPCC general body meeting later in the day saw Rahul try to address the malady that has afflicted the party: The lack of grassroots connect.
The speech brought back memories of his father Rajiv Gandhi’s address at the Congress Centenary Session in 1985 when the late Prime Minister vowed to throw out greedy power mongers from the party.
“The helicopter system of doling out tickets for party hoppers has happened in the past. But that will end,” said Rahul, sending out the message that only committed party workers will be rewarded and leaders can’t take their posts or tickets for granted.
With Karnataka being the only Congress-ruled state other than Punjab, Rahul is betting high on the state for revival of the Congress just as Indira Gandhi did so by winning the Chikkamagulur Lok Sabha by-election in 1978 following the Congress rout after the Emergency.
Rahul sees the 2018 election, coming just a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections, as the spark to rejuvenate the grand old party. In Siddaramaiah, he sees an able ally who can deliver and was therefore seen lauding the Siddaramaiah government and exhorting leaders and workers to reach out to masses to showcase the welfare programmes for the farmers and weaker sections.
For long-time associates of Congress, this reflected a sea change in the attitude of the high command, offering space for the emergence of strong regional satraps.
‘Remark on Army chief wrong’
Rahul Gandhi disapproved his party leader Sandeep Dikshit likening Army Chief General Bipin Rawat to a “goon on the street”, saying it was “absolutely wrong”. Gandhi said the Indian Army works for the country and there was no need for any political leader to make comments against the Army chief.